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I Like Me Better (When I'm With You)

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Evie loved books.

 

Why did Evie love books?

 

Well, because books allowed her to escape reality into an entirely different world. A world where things like superpowers or true love were possible. A world that could fit any taste. Fairytale lands? You got it. Ancient Rome rough landscapes? Heck yeah. Huge underwater kingdoms awaiting to be explored? Yes, we got that too.

 

This world had no limits and the best part was that every person could picture it differently. Imagination allowed such a thing. Evie loved to gush about all the amazing adventures she could embark on whenever she opened a new book, or found herself re-reading an old one. Disconnecting with the not so exciting real world was Evie’s favorite hobby. It only had one teeny tiny negative aspect about it. She could never see a pillow flying in her direction and hitting her right in the face.

 

“Hey!” Evie protested while throwing the pillow on the floor, upset she had to return to said boring reality. Lying with her legs up on her bed she saw her little sister Dizzy’s figure upside down, holding another pillow with what she believed it was an annoyed frown.

 

“You’re supposed to hang out with me remember?” Dizzy pointed out.

 

Evie grabbed her book once more.

 

“Let me finish this chapter.”

 

But as Evie opened the book to start where she left off, she heard a sound and a muffled complaint, probably coming from downstairs. Then she saw her older sister Snow also at the doorway, standing behind Dizzy and Evie knew the time for reading was over.

 

“Shall we go and help him?” Evie sighted.

 

“He always wants to do it by himself but we should head down and set the table.” Snow replied, trying to sound inviting.

 

Evie got up and followed her sisters.

 

“I hate it when daddy tries to cook from mommy’s receipt book. It always tastes horrible.” Dizzy complained, a little too loud, throwing the pillow on the floor.

 

“We’ve discussed this Dizzy, whatever it is, you eat it and you say it’s really good, like what mommy used to cook, ok?” Snow replied with her big sister authority.

 

“I was eating smashed apples when mommy died, like hell I know what her food tastes like.” Dizzy ignored Snow’s warning and complained once more. She had a point, Evie thought.

 

But Evie didn’t get to think more of it, or finish walking down the stairs as the front door opened and her neighbor Audrey stepped right inside.

 

“I’m not too late, am I?” She asked with a smile, dropping her purse, pecking Snow’s lips and immediately joining the group with the helping.

 

“Audrey! Right on time!” Mr. Grimhilde called from whatever he was doing in the oven.

 

“Smells good Mr. G!” Audrey complimented. She walked over to where Evie was standing and raised her hand, waiting for the usual hi five.

 

“Hi Evie.”

 

Evie met Audrey’s hand and she turned around, focusing on the food again.

 

“So, what are you cooking?” She asked the sister’s father while setting the plates on the table.

 

Audrey was casual on that day but she was still gifted with tanned skin, full pink lips, waves of silky brown hair that matched her eyes and was smelling nice, as always.

 

Maybe Evie should tell you about Audrey. Audrey the neighbor. Audrey, Snow’s girlfriend.

 

Audrey and Snow have been dating for the past two years. But before Snow even remotely cared about her existence…She was Evie’s first girlfriend. And by that Evie means girlfriend with a space between the words. Girl who was a friend. Oh, and did Evie mention Audrey was also her first real crush? Yeah, there’s that too.

 

It was easy because Evie and Audrey just clicked. They could talk about anything and everything. They understood one another.

 

Evie and Audrey didn’t stop being friends when Snow and Audrey got together. It simply became different. Suddenly, Audrey didn’t agree with Evie as much, only to side with whatever opinion Snow had.

 

But Snow and Audrey loved Evie and didn’t want her to feel left out. So, they kept inviting her to everything, including dates.

 

Which Evie felt really uncomfortable with.

 

Evie got it. She knew they wanted everything to feel as normal as possible, but the truth is that Evie still felt left out. She felt like a third wheel to be more specific.

 

Evie truly wasn’t trying to steal Snow’s girlfriend. She was in fact very happy for both of them. Snow was her sister, whom Evie loved very dearly and Evie couldn’t feel anything but happiness for her to have an amazing girl like Audrey.

 

So, Evie wrote Audrey a letter.

 

Evie wasn’t going to send it, no, it was mostly for her. But to better understand and deal with what she was feeling, she needed to write them down and what better way than to address those words to the person she had feelings for? And in all honesty, the letter was there to make Evie think about what her life would be like if she had realized her feelings for Audrey sooner.

 

Evie realized that, with all the mental rambling, she wasn’t helping with dinner at all, so she jumped the last couple of stairs and joined Snow.

 

Snow who was about to leave for college. Normally, it would be something to be excited and happy about. Except that Snow’s future college was located in Scotland.

 

“I can’t believe we only get to see you again on thanksgiving!” Dizzy whined while Snow filled her plate and left to get the rest of the food.

 

“Christmas actually, because Scotland is too far away to come back just for thanksgiving.” Mr. Grimhilde corrected. He was a tall man with a gentle smile, one that all the Grimhilde sisters shared.

 

“Are you serious? Only on Christmas?” Evie protested incredulous. Her father chuckled.

 

“Well, on the other hand, you’ll get to practice your driving while Snow is away.”

 

“Oh my god, I literally forgot I had to drive with Evie now.” Dizzy announced with an annoyed tone.

 

“You’re more than free to take the bus young lady.” Evie clapped back almost offended.

 

“I can give you both a ride. I’m not going anywhere, I live right next door.” Audrey sweetly offered. Evie saw it in Audrey’s pretty eyes, just how badly she wished to keep on having her life tangled with theirs, even while Snow was gone.

 

“Or maybe you should just let me drive.” Dizzy tried with a provoking smile.

 

“What did I miss?” Snow came back to the table.

 

“We were talking about how bad of a driver Evie is.” Dizzy promptly answered with a mocking smile.

 

Evie wasn’t a bad driver. Truly, she wasn’t. She just was very anxious about doing it. The idea of being on the road full of people she didn’t know she could trust brought her a huge amount of discomfort.

 

“And we were talking about planes, which reminds me,” Audrey added, pulling something out of her purse. “I have something for you.” She handed the paper to Snow.

 

“Oh?” Snow seemed surprised, while unfolding the piece of paper.

 

“When you said you weren’t coming for thanksgiving I thought that it would be nice for me to come to you. I’m going to Scotland!” Audrey announced excited.

 

Evie was about to give an excited answer when she saw the dark expression on her sister’s face.

 

“…You already payed for these?” Snow asked, not taking her eyes from the plane tickets.

 

The entire mood changed inside that room. Audrey seemed confused by that reaction.

 

“…Well, yeah. As soon as you told me you’d be studying there I had an alert on google for plane tickets, you know, so I could come visit…Why?” Audrey tried to pick up her casual tone and failed because the hurt was clear. She was not expecting that reaction whatsoever.

 

No one was. An awkward and heavy silence fell into the room.

 

“Hmm, just like mommy’s.”

 

Evie looked over at Dizzy who now had a mouth full of meat and was trying to change the subject while fighting the look of disgust her face was trying to make.

 

Dizzy might’ve been adopted but it surely never felt like it. She was a baby when her mother, Drizella Tremaine, announced she was going to start over in Australia and didn’t want something so troublesome as a baby to hold her back.

 

She was going to give little Dizzy over to the foster system when Miss Grimhilde offered to adopt the child. She thought it would be good for Evie to know what is was like to have a little sister to take care of and that it was the perfect way of completing their family. Mr. Grimhilde immediately agreed and so Dizzy Tremaine was now Dizzy Tremaine-Grimhilde.

 

Their family had always been a little messy, a little rough around the edges but it was always a beacon of light in Evie’s life. If Evie ever needed a bunch of people she could rely on, her sisters, her dad and Audrey were surely the ones she’d go to.

 

However, Evie was watching from her bedroom window as her little beacon of light was slowly starting to fade. The window was closed but Evie could still hear most of Snow and Audrey's argument.

 

“…. Why are you being like this? How is any of this my fault?” Audrey asked, incredulous.

 

“You shouldn’t have done that in front of them!” Snow replied throwing both hands in the air in exasperation.

 

Evie then zoned out of the conversation, her mind on to something else. Snow was leaving tomorrow. Yes, she was leaving, which meant that Evie would be the big sister while Snow was gone.

 

It wasn’t that Evie wasn’t a responsible girl. But she always had Snow there to guide her and to give her the solution when she couldn’t get there herself. And Evie didn’t feel ready to take on the responsibility of being the problem solver, at all.

 

And then there was Audrey. Audrey, who Evie wrote a letter to because her crush on the beautiful girl was too big to keep inside.

 

Evie went over to the little box her mother had given her, opening it. Audrey hadn’t been the only girl that Evie has had feelings for in the past. She looked at the letters, taking them out of the box.

 

Those letters were Evie’s most prized and secret possession. There were five in total:

 

Freddie from Camp;

 

Mal from 7th grade;

 

Jane from Homecoming;

 

Jordan from Model UN;

 

And Audrey.

 

Evie would write a letter whenever she had a crush so intense she didn’t know what to do with it. Those letters served as a reminder of how powerful human emotions could be, how Evie could easily be consumed by them.

 

Snow would totally say Evie was being way too dramatic, but Evie saw no harm in it. A little drama could be fun.

 

“Hey, what are you doing?”

 

Speaking of the devil.

 

As Snow walked into the room, Evie quickly threw the letters back inside the box and covered it with a blanket. It was obvious Evie was trying to hide something but Snow completely ignored it.

 

“Your room is a mess.”

 

Instead, Snow threw herself into Evie’s bed and stared blankly at the wall. Evie, worried, slowly sat down next to her. Snow had her back turned and Evie admired her black hair and her beautiful complexion for a moment. Snow had always been beautiful. With her pretty hair and her lips, red as blood.

 

This was all very new to Evie. Evie worried about a lot of things, but Snow was never one of them. Or Snow and Audrey’s relationship. Now, Evie found herself worried about both.

 

“Are you ok?” Evie carefully asked.

 

There was a pause.

 

“Yeah.” Snow replied and a sad smile showed on her face. Then, it quickly faded as Snow thought about it some more. “I mean, I kind of just broke up with Audrey, so I don’t really know?”

 

Evie felt like she was just hit by a truck.

 

“You did what now? Why?” Evie gasped.

 

Snow seemed to think about it, another silent pause as she did so. Without turning around she replied.

 

“Before Mommy died, she told me that I shouldn’t go to college with a girlfriend.”

 

That was supposed to make any sense? Because to Evie, it didn’t. Not at all.

 

“But you love her.” Evie pointed out the obvious.

 

“I know.”

 

Snow was making less and less sense. She loved Audrey and Audrey clearly loved Snow. Her going to college in Scotland was tricky but it shouldn’t have to stop two people who loved each other from being in a relationship. At least that was Evie’s humble opinion.

 

“Any chance you’ll change your mind?” Evie already knew the answer but the question came from her lips anyway.

 

“No. It’s over.” Snow replied, sitting up.

 

Then Snow swiftly changed the subject to how she had a box of stuff to give to Goodwill after packing her stuff and how Evie should do the same and dispose of some of her stuff, pointing to an empty box she got for Evie.

 

Evie wasn’t thinking of doing that, she was fine with the stuff she had and had no intentions of giving anything up, though.

 

Snow then gave Evie the ‘you’re going to be the big sister and you need to set a good example for Dizzy’ talk, like Evie hadn’t had that same conversation with herself at least a dozen times already, like Evie wasn’t under enough pressure from that exact aspect already.

 

 

--

 

 

Leaving Snow at the airport had been quite the experience. Evie was, once again, on her bed with her legs up, thinking about how Snow kept the hugs short and not too intimate, like she was trying to detach herself somehow. How frustrated Evie was about Snow picking the college that was the furthest away from them.

 

It’s an opportunity for you to branch out and make new friends!’ Had been Snow’s answer to Evie voicing out her frustration. Evie didn’t want to make new friends. She knew everyone in high school and she wanted nothing to do with them.

 

Evie thought about Snow leaving for the gate.

 

Do you think she’ll turn around?’ Dizzy had asked, hopeful.

 

Evie hated to take that hope away with the answer.

 

No, that’s not Snow.’

 

It really wasn’t. When Snow did something, there was no turning back. There was no turning around to see her family one more time. And there was no turning back on the decision of breaking up with Audrey.

 

Evie knew how Snow felt about objects, how if they no longer held a purpose, they weren’t worth keeping. Evie frowned all by herself because it was a sad discovery, to see that Snow felt the same way about people.

 

Evie thought about Audrey. Audrey who was probably heartbroken right next door. Audrey who was single for the first time in two years.

 

“No, Evie, stop.” Evie scolded herself.

 

Evie ended up filling her card box with a bunch of clothes that she didn’t wear anymore. Evie found she was comfortable in leather and anything else was just all over the place, without a purpose.

 

The next day was the first day of junior year for her and she tried not to think so much about it.

 

 

--

 

 

But returning to school was inevitable, so there Evie was, next to Dizzy taking the annual pic with a little board with ‘11º grade’ written on it with white chalk.

 

“Are you all set?” Evie asked Dizzy.

 

“Hold on.” Dizzy asked, rushing inside the house.

 

“You look great. I have to go, but good luck out there.” Her dad said with a proud smile on his face.

 

Evie nodded with gratitude. With her blue leather jacket, her blue hair, her leather blue skirt and her boots, she surely felt comfortable and herself. Beautiful? That was debatable.

 

“All set!” Dizzy came back wearing her bike pink helmet and held a teasing smile.

 

“Very funny.” Evie rolled her eyes.

 

“Very necessary, you mean.” Dizzy replied very seriously.

 

And just as fast, Evie was now walking through the school halls, full of students rushing in and out, some talking, some filling their lockers, some looking at their schedules, the usual mess.

 

As soon as she took a quick look, she saw Audrey taking a book out of her locker. Evie waved weakly at her and got a little wave back. Evie was worried about what the breakup meant for her and Audrey but now wasn’t the time to think about it.

 

It wasn’t, because saying hi to Audrey got her to bump into someone.

 

“Watch it!”

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry, I wasn’t paying attention.” Evie apologized and turned to face the voice.

 

She locked eyes with a tall boy who looked like a prince, with his golden hair and dressed all in blue with splashes of yellow, a boy she knew all too well. He looked bored while scanning her.

 

“Ah, it’s you.” He said in the same bored tone.

 

Evie should probably tell you about him as well, right?

 

The boy’s name is Ben, short for Benjamin. Evie used to describe him as the human version of a puppy, because that’s what he was.

 

He was Evie’s former neighbor and also Evie’s former best friend. Ben was a smart and kind boy who had the misfortune of being born into a wealthy family and a greedy business man for a father. When Ben was a kid, there were little to no issues, but as soon as the boy walked into his teens, his father Adam started controlling every other aspect of Ben’s life in order to prepare him for his future job as the CEO of his family’s company. Including who he should and shouldn’t hang out with.

 

Ben opposed, of course. Until the day he didn’t. The day he started officially being actively involved with the family business was the day he changed. He didn’t smile so much, he started wearing silky expensive suits all the time and didn’t have time for ‘common’ people like Evie. He was a golden boy, so he was also very popular and he had a reputation to keep. Evie’s lack of popularity was also one reason why Ben decided she wasn’t worth his attention anymore.

 

Evie didn’t think Ben was truly that shallow though. She thought Ben was afraid of his father and also eager to prove himself to him. Even if that meant being the ‘popular snobby rich kid’.

 

“Second hand clothing again, I see.” Ben commented.

 

Evie tried not to be hurt by his comment, because everything she had on, was created by her.

 

“I made these.” Evie defended herself.

 

“And they are incredible!”

 

And right behind Evie was Lonnie, Evie’s best friend. Evie’s only friend really.

 

“Only you could rock all this E! Of course, you’re playing it safe with yet another blue suit, right Benny Boo? How many of these are there? A hundred?”

 

Ben’s perfect face twitched.

 

“Screw you Lonnie, you know very well that I need to dress accordingly, as the heir to my father’s throne.” Ben said with slight annoyance in his tone, speaking as if he was in line to be king.

 

Ben was about to say something else when a wave of purple stopped him. The small girl came from behind and kissed Ben’s cheek, smiling widely at him and showing off her dimples. Her clothes were all purple leather and ripped skinny jeans that matched her wild dark purple hair. All that made her porcelain skin and her bright green eyes pop like nothing else.

 

“Hi Ben!”

 

Ben’s face softened but his eyes were still very much on Evie and Lonnie.

 

And then he held a smile, the kind of boyish smile Evie remembers seeing on him when he was a kid.

 

“Hey Mal!” He replied back.

 

While they made small talk, Evie had her eyes on Mal.

 

Evie shall tell you about Mal as well. Remember Mal from 7th grade? Another of Evie’s non-recipient of one of her love letters? That’s this Mal. Ben’s Mal.

 

7th grade was also a big step in Evie’s growing up. It was when her first party with boys and girls all together happened. And that day was when she nurtured her crush on Mal.

 

A party with boys and girls could only mean one thing: Spin the bottle.

 

Everyone knew that Ben, who was still Evie’s best friend, and Mal only wanted to kiss each other but the bottle ended up pointing to Evie and Mal.

 

Well, you can’t cheat the bottle.’ Evie remembers Mal saying before they both leaned in and pecked each other’s lips. It was all very fast, but Evie remembers how Ben looked outraged and how Mal’s lips tasted like strawberries.

 

“So, I was complimenting Evie’s bold choice of clothing.” Hearing her name from Ben’s mouth brought Evie back to reality. Mal’s eyes were on her.

 

“Oh, I just saw some people we need to greet. Let’s go Mal.” Ben immediately said, letting go of Mal and moving swiftly through the hall.

 

Mal was left with a frown on her face, pretty confused, looking back and forth between Ben and the two girls in front of her.

 

“He’s been trying some new protein juice after working out, maybe it’s a side effect?” Mal clumsily excused Ben’s behavior with an embarrassed laugh.

 

Seeing how Evie and Lonnie weren’t going to keep the conversation going, Mal grew a little nervous.

 

“Hmm…yeah I should, uh, I should probably go.” Mal said, slowly leaving and mixing with the crowd.

 

As soon as Mal’s purple hair was out of Evie’s sight, she turned to Lonnie.

 

“You really think my clothes are incredible?”

 

Lonnie gave Evie a stern look.

 

“I can’t believe you have to ask.” Then she became more serious. “They are E. Really.”

 

Evie flashed a smile.

 

“Also, I wasn’t going to let prissy boy bad mouth you.” Lonnie added with a wink.

 

Well, that part of the day was over. Then it came another tricky part. Lunch time.

 

Evie stepped inside the cafeteria, but regret soon flooded her. Every other table was taken and Lonnie decided to skip lunch at school, leaving Evie friendless for what was the busiest part of the school day.

 

Evie watched as people gathered around the ‘popular table’ where Ben and Mal sat. Ben was indeed popular but Mal was not far behind as captain of the lacrosse team and well…by also looking like that. Ben whispered something in Mal’s ear that made her smile and her dimples showed. Evie always thought Mal was beautiful and that didn’t change.

 

But Evie didn’t have lunch at the cafeteria. After trying the library, where you could only eat soft foods, Evie ended up at the bleachers. Where she found Audrey, sitting alone, listening to music through her headphones.

 

“Is this seat taken?” Evie tried.

 

Audrey looked up and took the headphones off with a tiny smile.

 

“It is now. By you, I mean.”

 

Evie sat down. A pause. And then:

 

“Did you know she was going to do it?” Audrey asked. “I mean, she’s your sister, you probably talk about stuff.” She added.

 

Evie wished so hard she could make Audrey feel better.

 

“No. I had no idea.” Evie replied truthfully.

 

Audrey sighted.

 

“We’re still good, right? I mean we can still talk and like, hang out, right?” Audrey asked, in fear she wasn’t welcome anymore.

 

Evie gave Audrey a reassuring smile.

 

“Yeah, we’re good.”

 

And they really were good. What Evie felt about Audrey would never matter because she would never do that to Snow. So, they sat, had lunch and listened to music, like old times.

 

 

--

 

 

“Everyone wanted to sit next to me at lunch, so I ended up rotating so everyone got a chance you know? And the cafeteria is huge Evie, you should’ve seen it!” Dizzy chirped excitedly on her way to the parking lot, where Evie parked the car to pick up her little sister.

 

Is was not like she could relate to Dizzy’s social life so Evie decided to smile and nod at everything Dizzy said.

 

Evie got in the car and mentally prepared herself to another ride. She truly hated driving.

 

Dizzy got in and grabbed her helmet.

 

“Seriously?” Evie asked, annoyed.

 

“Uh, yeah.” Dizzy replied.

 

Evie sighted and started the car. As she reversed it she heard a voice behind them and immediately hit the brakes.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

 

She turned her head to see no other than Mal, standing behind their car.

 

“I’m so glad I had my helmet on!” Dizzy mocked Evie but she was not worried about that.

 

Mal walked over to the driver’s door and waited for Evie to open the window.

 

As the car window opened, Mal rested an arm on it so she could be closer to Evie. Evie sucked in a nervous breath.

 

“Hi.” Mal greeted with a half-smile.

 

“Hello.” Evie greeted back refusing to look into those green eyes of Mal’s.

 

“You know, when you’re driving, you look through the mirrors before you reverse the car, you know to avoid killing people and such. It’s a thing that normal humans do.” Mal sneered with a smirk on her face. She didn’t look angry though, so that was the bright side of it.

 

Evie was literally sweating.

 

“Uh, yeah I know but I’m not comfortable with all this yet, but I’m fine, we’re fine.” Evie blurted out. Dizzy was looking at Evie like she had grown horns on her head and Mal was giving her an amused smirk.

 

“Will you be fine? You know, can you leave the parking lot?” Mal asked and Evie could’ve sworn she heard a hint of worry in Mal’s voice, but it was probably Evie’s imagination messing with her again.

 

“Yes, we’re ok, you should probably go now.” Evie slowly replied, looking straight up and gripping the wheel a little too hard. Why was she so nervous? It was just Mal.

 

Mal raised an eyebrow.

 

“Sure, whatever you say Blueberry.” Mal chuckled. “Maybe you should be in charge now.” Mal turned to Dizzy who beamed at the purple haired girl. With a final teasing smile, Mal walked away and Evie closed the window.

 

“Who was that?” Dizzy asked.

 

“That was Mal Bertha.” Evie answered.

 

A pause.

 

“What are we waiting for?” Dizzy inquired, a little confused.

 

“For the other cars to leave the parking lot.” Evie replied, not ready to drive just yet.

 

Oh my god.” Dizzy groaned.

 

 

--

 

 

The rest of the day had gone by really quickly. Evie woke up the next morning, still on the couch she spent the night on. She didn’t remember falling asleep but she did remember how Dizzy mocked her for having nothing better to do on a Saturday night.

 

‘I’m 11 and I canceled plans to be here with you tonight, you’re 16 and you probably didn’t have anything better to do.’ Dizzy had said. What was it with her sister’s generation? They all seemed to have more complex social lives than most people Evie’s age.

 

Evie tried not to think too much of it while she got up with a groan, ready to face another lonely Sunday. She was surprised when she found herself wondering what Audrey and Mal were doing.

 

 

--

 

 

“Lonnie, I’m begging you, please slow down.” Evie protested in between breaths as the two best friends ran on the tracking course, part of their P.E warm up.

 

Evie wasn’t against working out, but she didn’t have it in her to keep up with Lonnie and her extremely athletic self. That’s what Evie gets from befriending the head of the mixed martial arts team their high school was able to assemble.

 

Lonnie slowed down significantly, knowing her friend couldn’t keep up. Now they were comfortably jogging, side by side.

 

“I was in auto pilot mode, again wasn’t I? Sorry.” Lonnie apologized.

 

Evie gave her a smile.

 

“It’s cool.”

 

“So, what did you do last night?” Lonnie inquired.

 

Evie’s eyes sparkled.

 

“I finished another book. It was so good!”

 

Lonnie knew the answer would be something like that, it always was, but Evie was so very passionate about reading and Lonnie loved to see her best friend happy. So, she kept asking.

 

“Hey! Hey Blueberry!”

 

The girls didn’t stop jogging but they certainly heard a third voice, just behind them. To Evie’s surprise, there was Mal jogging just behind them.

 

“Can I talk to you?” Mal inquired and that put a stop on the running. Evie stopped to look carefully at Mal.

 

“To me?” She asked. Mal Bertha wanting to talk to her? Weird. They weren’t friends or anything, why would Mal ever want to talk to her.

 

“Uhm, yeah.” Mal answered like it was so obvious.

 

“Hey Bertha, I heard prissy boy dumped you for a posh chick that works for his dad, is that true?” Lonnie butted in with a teasing smirk.

 

Mal gave her a humorless chuckle.

 

“I heard you have a dragon for a pet, is that true, Lonnie?” Mal clapped back unamused.

 

“Yeah, he’s real cute, I called him Mushu.” Lonnie laughed back.

 

“Yeah yeah, well I have to...Yeah I have to talk to Evie.” Mal dismissed Lonnie and it felt like she was in a hurry. “Alone, I mean.”

 

Lonnie raised a curious eyebrow, but complied.

 

“If you need me, I’ll be…well not here, that’s for sure. Call Mushu if you need anything.” Lonnie joked.

 

“Perfect.” Mal mumbled quietly as Lonnie left the field entirely. Not that she was allowed to leave, she just didn’t care.

 

Then she focused on Evie, who was still very confused as to what all of this was about.

 

“So, I just wanted to say that I…like, I really appreciate it but it’s never going to happen.”

 

Evie blinked two or three times, only to find herself even more confused. What the hell was Mal talking about? Seeing that Mal was not moving forward with her point, Evie had to ask.

 

“I’m sorry, what?”

 

Mal looked a bit lost and very uncomfortable for a second before she decided on elaborating the matter.

 

“I mean, from what I remember that kiss, like it was hot for, you know, 7th grade and such and uhm, I think it’s really cool that you think I have like a sparkle or something in my eyes—”

 

That’s when things started to make sense for Evie. The 7th grade kiss and the talk about Mal’s eyes. Evie scanned the purple haired girl who was wearing a tank top and shorts and she saw it. The letter Mal was holding. The letter Evie wrote about her hellish crush on Mal. That letter. And Mal was holding it.

 

Mal was still rambling about how her and Ben were still in a weird place at the moment but Evie wasn’t paying attention anymore. Mal had her letter and like, read it. Mal knew. Evie felt the world spinning around her and the ringing in her ears was unbearable. For a moment, she felt cold sweats and a slight nausea. Then, her body gave up on her and it was like falling asleep, all of a sudden.

 

 

-

 

 

“Evie.”

 

“Blueberry? Wake up.”

 

“Can someone like, help me out here?”

 

“Hello? Evie.”

 

“Wake up.”

 

Evie can hear it. The voice. So, she opens her eyes to find Mal, kneeling next to her, a spark of worry in her stupidly green eyes.

 

“Hey, are you ok?” Mal asks and Evie realized the worry in her eyes, travelled to her voice.

 

Evie’s head was pounding, pretty much like her heart.

 

“What happened?”

 

“You… fainted.” Mal replied a little dumbly.

 

So, that’s what happened. Sounds reasonable, in light of the recent events, Evie thought.

 

“Yeah...Ok.” Evie said, unwilling to get up.

 

Mal wasn’t having it, though.

 

“C’mon, give me your hand.” It wasn’t actually a request, as Mal gently grabbed Evie’s hand. “And the other.” Mal tightened her grip on both Evie’s hands, helping out as she slowly lifted her head and her torso.

 

“Yup, you got this. There we go.” Mal encouraged. Evie was now sitting, still a little groggy.

 

“Do you want me to call someone to get you some water or something?” Mal then asked, that worried expression back on her pretty face as her eyes scanned Evie’s now really pale face.

 

“No, I’m ok.” Evie decided to answer, reassuring the other girl with a weak but meaningful smile. It was so weird to have Mal, of all people, concerned for her well-being and that’s what reminded Evie of the reason she was sitting on the floor. The letter.

 

“Are you sure?” Mal softly insisted, not entirely convinced.

 

Evie was about to reply, just as softly when someone else caught her eye. Someone who would never step foot on the track course, unless she had class. Audrey.

 

An Audrey that was scanning the entire area. An Audrey that also had something in her hand. A letter in her hand. Evie’s letter.

 

Oh no.

 

“Oh my god.” Evie mumbles, feeling her heart race again. Audrey finally finds Evie and they share a look. The look Audrey was giving her was a little too much. Evie might just faint again.

 

Mal is now looking slightly confused as to why Evie was looking white as chalk again and started to look around, searching for the source. As Audrey doesn’t seem to stop on her tracks, Evie’s heart pounds dangerously against her rib cage.

 

“Oh my god.” Evie groans louder as some sort of wild impulse takes over her and she decides to grab Mal’s face with her hands and press her lips against Mal’s before the girl even has a chance of asking what the hell was going on. The abrupt and sloppy kiss pushes Mal to lie on her back with Evie on top of her.

 

It was safe to say that for a moment, a teeny tiny moment, the girls forgot where they were or what was going on until the P.E teacher’s voice boomed across the field.

 

“Hey! Stop that! Two more laps for you, Grimhilde!”

 

That snapped Evie out of the kiss and of the rather suggestive position she and Mal were in.

 

Mal was giving Evie the utmost confused look and was about to ask what in the world was that when Evie swiftly got up.

 

“Thanks!” Evie blurted before running and leaving the track all together, almost bumping into Audrey as she sprinted away.

 

“Evie!” Audrey called.

 

Mal was left on the floor, a hand up in confusion and her mouth slightly open.

 

But Evie didn’t stop, not to explain anything to Mal nor to explain anything to Audrey. It’s not like she could. She couldn’t face Audrey now that she had the letter and knew about the crush Evie had on her, before and while dating her sister.

 

And Evie also was not keen on explaining to Mal why she had just kissed her in the middle of the track course, out of freaking nowhere, just moments before she found out Mal had her letter.

 

Evie only stopped when she was safely inside the girl’s bathroom, inside one of the cubicles with her hands on her head, trying to process everything that had just happened.

 

Ok, so two letters were out there. And out of all five letters, it really had to be Audrey and Mal the ones that got to their destination.

 

Great.

 

Evie heard the bathroom door open and another voice was heard.

 

“Evie, are you in here?”

 

It was a girl’s voice, but at least it wasn’t any of the previous girls.

 

“No?” She replied stupidly, somehow sounding more like a question.

 

The girl didn’t answer. Instead she slid something under the cubicle, so Evie could see it. Just when Evie didn’t think things could turn out any worse…

 

Surprise, surprise, another of Evie’s letters.

 

Jane.

 

Jane from Homecoming. A girl with pretty blue eyes and a shy yet beautiful smile. A girl that kept Evie company during a night where Evie had no friends or a date. They danced, laughed, talked and Evie was more than happy to talk fashion with her. Evie ended up the night with a “what if…” and another letter under her belt.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to barge in on you, or scare you for that matter, I just saw you running in here and I wanted to make sure you were ok. And I thought you might want that back, it seemed a little personal.” Jane soothing voice came again.

 

Jane didn’t point a finger at her and there weren’t any judgmental undertones in her voice. Neither she seemed like was there to demand any sort of answer. That calmed Evie down more than she could ever imagined.

 

“Jane, know that I wrote this years ago.” Evie replied from the cubicle, after sucking in a breath. Jane not wanting answers didn’t make it any easier to address the fact that she had read the letter.

 

“Freshmen Homecoming, right?” Evie could hear the smile on Jane’s lips as she formulated the question that wasn’t really a question.

 

That’s when Evie decided it was safe to leave the cubicle and face the girl that was leaning on it. Jane met Evie with a comforting smile.

 

“I had a lot of fun that night as well.” Jane said with a chuckle. Evie felt that there was a ‘but’ coming right up. She wasn’t wrong. “…But I feel like I must tell you...you know I’m straight, right?”

 

Evie smiled back, reassuring the girl. “I know.”

 

But Jane seemed to realize how that sounded.

 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound small minded or anything, nothing like that, it’s just like…you’re…”

 

“…gay? Yeah, I am.” Evie finished for her.

 

“Exactly. And the last thing I wanted was for you to get your heart broken or something. Really, that came out very wrong. I’m so sorry.” Jane was literally panicking and Evie dropped a hand on her shoulder.

 

“Hey, relax. It’s ok.” Evie smiled. “I know what you meant.”

 

Jane relaxed and Evie offered her another smile.

 

“Well, I’ll leave you now. You’re sure you’re ok?” Jane then asked.

 

“I’m sure. Thank you for worrying though. I really appreciate it.” Evie answered truthfully.

 

Jane smiled.

 

“And thank you, for bringing this back.” Evie held the letter in her hand.

 

“No worries. See around then?”

 

Another smile.

 

“Yeah.”

 

As Jane leaves the bathroom, Evie looks over at the letter and the fact that in less than an hour, three out of five letters were out of the box and in the hands of the people they were addressed to, sunk in.

 

The box.

 

Shit.”

 

 

--

 

 

Evie literally rushed inside the house and without a word, dashed through the stairs, inside her bedroom and all the way to the closet, where she kept the box with the letters inside. Except the box wasn’t there on the top shelf, where Evie decided it was the safest place to hide it.

 

She sucked in a nervous breath and rushed back to the kitchen, already questioning her dad while coming down the stairs.

 

“Have you seen a blue sort of teal box, it has fabric on top, it’s round and has a bow on it!” Evie practically screamed it and had to inhale deeply because she didn’t stop in her tracks and didn’t bother to phrase her words for it to even sound like a question.

 

“Wow! No ‘Hi Dad’, no ‘Why are you home so early?’, oh maybe because your daddy is pretty amazing at his job and got himself a free afternoon, so he’s home to—”

 

But Mr. Grimhilde’s rather jovial approach was cut short by a distressed Evie who, for the first time, wasn’t having any of it.

 

“I really need to know where my fabric box is, mommy gave it to me, it’s very important!”

 

Evie’s dad realized she was serious and dropped the act.

 

“I don’t know sweetie, maybe it went out with the Goodwill boxes.”

 

Evie felt her blood run cold. She took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down.

 

“The...The Goodwill boxes?” Evie weakly asked.

 

This couldn’t be happening. No. Not a chance.

 

“No, no.” She mumbled, more to herself than to her dad who pointed at the counter.

 

“You got some mail, by the way.” He said.

 

As Evie’s life wasn’t already upside down, she truly thought she was going to have a seizure as she recognized her handwriting on the envelope that rested on the counter. Another letter.

 

She picked it up, mortified. It really was another letter. There were four of them now!

 

Evie groaned as she ran up the stairs, again, and slammed her bedroom door. But not before her frustrated yelp was heard booming through the house.

 

I hate my life!

 

“…What’s up with her?” Dizzy heard her dad ask.

 

“...I don’t know, moon day?” Dizzy guessed.

 

“Mood day?” Her dad chuckled. “Menstruation is science, nothing to do with the moon.”

 

“Says you, mister Man. But the goddess within says it’s a sacred rhythm that represents the deepest celebration of womanhood.” Dizzy replied with a smirk and the attitude of an intellectual.

 

In the meantime, Evie was pacing all around the room, non-stop.

 

“The letters are out, there’s nothing you can do.” Evie kept mumbling to herself while pacing.

 

There really wasn’t much to be done at this point. Three out of five letter reached the hands of the people they were addressed to and all three of them had already read them. It’s not like Evie could snatch the letters from them and have them unsee them.

 

One good thing though was the letter Evie still had in her hand. Letter number four. A letter addressed to Freddie Facilier.

 

That one had been addressed to Camp, so it had been returned. At least, Freddie would never know how bad Evie was crushing on her after that game of chubby bunny.

 

And who even knew where letter number five even was. Had Jordan read it as well? Evie only allowed herself to wonder for a little while because it really didn’t matter at this point. Jordan and Freddie were the least of her worries. Even Jane was not on her list of worries.

 

Mal and Audrey, on the other hand, were. That’s what got Evie thinking about them, once more. She walked over to the window to see Audrey walking outside. Evie let out a long sight.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

Evie was startled by Dizzy’s voice, her little sister standing at the doorway with an eyebrow raised, but she didn’t exactly have time to answer because their bell rang loudly.

 

A beat.

 

And then, their dad’s voice boomed all the way up to Evie’s room.

 

“Evie! Audrey is here!”

 

Evie’s heart did a backflip and her eyes darted at Dizzy. Evie made a split-second decision.

 

“You never saw me.”

 

And before Dizzy could question her, Evie was already out the window and stepping clumsily on their house roof tiles.

 

Shortly after, Evie realized that maybe attempting a ‘mission impossible’ kind of move while wearing heels hadn’t been the best of her ideas, as she helplessly slipped, rolled down the roof and all the way to floor, her face hitting the grass with a thud.

 

“Damn it. Ow.” Evie cursed, getting up as quickly as she fell. She hit the floor with her face and fortunately her hands, leaving only a scrapped knee (which would totally be bruising later) and a little bruise on her pride.

 

Happy that she wasn’t lumping, she grabbed her bicycle and pedaled as fast as her legs allowed. Just as long as she didn’t have to face Audrey.

 

Evie felt the wind in her face as she pedaled and wondered what else could be in store for her.

 

After all, the day wasn’t over yet.

Chapter Text

Fate (read: her blue bicycle) brought Evie to one of the only places she frequented on a regular basis: The Corner Cafe.

 

Why?

 

Because it felt like home.

 

Oh, plus their service was impeccable and they had one of Evie’s favorite beverages, which she ordered right away.

 

She still had her heart sort of racing and the process of taking the straw out of the protection paper and dipping it on her blueberry drink was a rather aggressive one.

 

With a groan of annoyance, she finally took a long sip of her drink.

 

“…Hey Blueberry.”

 

Evie still had the straw in her mouth as she looked to her left, only to find Mal sitting a couple of stools away her. Had Evie been drinking more avidly, she probably would’ve choked on her drink. It still felt like Mal was pretty close.

 

When did Mal walk in? Was she already there when Evie arrived? Why didn’t Evie notice her in the first place?

 

Those were just a few of the questions Evie had in mind but never got to ask because the nice servant, who was always friendly to Evie, because she was such a regular client and always tipped him nicely, showed up behind her. He allowed himself a quick glance to both girls before speaking up.

 

“Oh, anything for your friend?”

 

“She’s not with me.” Evie promptly answered, not daring to look Mal’s way.

 

“I’d like a strawberry shake, please.” Mal replied flashing a big smile at the servant, who nodded and left to get her order done.

 

Evie found herself extremely uncomfortable with having Mal sitting so close. She knew she probably looked like an idiot, not really knowing what to do with her hands, or her fingers. To distract the other girl from her own nervousness, Evie spoke up.

 

“So, what are you doing here?”

 

“What do you mean, I’m just here to take down one of those strawberry shakes.” Mal replied, looking distractedly to the door the servant walked through just a moment ago.

 

“Cool.” Evie said, nodding. She didn’t believe it for a second but was too nervous to say anything remotely productive.

 

Mal didn’t keep the charade for long though. It was probably never her intention.

 

“…Actually, I stopped at your house and your sister told me I might find you here.” Mal explained, a more serious tone coating her voice.

 

Evie made a mental note to have a little chat with Dizzy when she got home.

 

“…Look I just want to be… super clear,” Mal continued.

 

“Okay?” Evie complied raising an eyebrow.

 

“I’m flattered…I am…But Ben and I just broke up and I—”

 

“Are you seriously trying to reject me right now?” Evie interrupted a little incredulous and the only reason her hands didn’t travel to her hips was because they were sitting.

 

“Well, yeah. Because it really didn’t seem like it took? The first time?” Mal answered, her voice raising an octave and using her hands, maybe a little too much, to make her point across. It sounded more like a question though.

 

If Evie didn’t know any better, she’d say Mal was all jumbled.

 

“Mal Bertha, I am not trying to date you.” Evie firmly stated, hoping Mal would finally leave the matter drop.

 

No such luck.

 

“I mean, ok, yeah, but like, your mouth is saying something, but then your mouth… said something completely different.” Mal pointed out but she made a mess with her words.

 

“Ok, what?” Evie asked, confused.

 

Mal was about to answer when the servant finally came back with her order. Mal’s eyes sparkled giddily at the luxurious pink shake now in front of her.

 

“Thank you,” Mal stretched her neck until she could see the boy’s name tag in his uniform. “…uhm…Gil.”

 

Gil gave Mal and Evie a smile and got back to work. Both girls missed how his smile meant something else.

 

After he was out of sight, Evie realized that she did owe Mal some sort of explanation for…well, for ‘her mouth saying something now but saying something completely different before’.

 

She turned to face Mal, who was now happily sipping her strawberry drink with a slight smile on her lips.

 

“Ok, so, uh, here’s the thing,” Evie started.

 

Mal hummed in response still focused on her shake. She furrowed her brows, making Evie know she was paying attention. Mal’s head was tilted ever so slightly from having the straw in her mouth and Evie had to refrain herself from finding it cute, so she could give the other girl the explanation she sort of deserved.

 

“…I don’t actually like you. I just had to make it look like I liked you, so somebody else won’t think I like them.” Evie explained, slowly, trying her best so Mal could keep up with the mess inside her head.

 

Mal was already solely focused on Evie, the shake forgotten on the counter and she couldn’t tell you when that happened.

 

“Oh, ok…Ok, Who?” Mal asked, a little amused smirk dancing on her lips.

 

“What?”

 

“Who? I mean, you have to tell me who this mystery someone is, otherwise I’m just going to assume you have a secret tattoo of my pretty face on you.” Mal sneered, clearly having her fun.

 

Was she for real?

 

“Ok, no.”

 

Mal raised an eyebrow.

 

“Should I tell the rest of the school you wrote me a love letter?”

 

Evie knew Mal was doing it on purpose to get her to talk. Evie couldn’t trust Mal to keep her mouth shut, the amount of people that already knew about the letters was more than enough.

 

“Ok, fine. Fine. It’s Audrey. Briar.”

 

Mal’s eyes widened a bit.

 

“Whoa, hold on, wait. Briar? Doesn’t that girl date your sister?”

 

“Yeah…I mean, she, uh… dated my sister. In the past tense,” Evie explained, stumbling a little with her words. “And she also got a letter, so you can probably guess how awkward and complicated that would get if she thinks that I actually—”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on, hold on, hold on, stop, stop, stop,” Mal interrupted, speaking really fast, holding a hand in the air and closing her eyes for a second to process that information. Evie immediately stopped talking.

 

A pause.

 

“I’m not the only person that got a letter?”

 

Evie shook her head, a little amused at how that revelation seemed to bother Mal.

 

“Wow, you really think you’re special and then you find out that she wrote love letters to two people.”

 

Mal sure sounded like her pride had just been hurt, but Evie was not about to throw a pity party for her. Mal wanted the truth and now she had to deal with it.

 

“Well I wrote five letters, so don’t go feeling too special.” Evie said.

 

“You wrote five love letters? Did I hear that right?” Now Mal just looked surprised, with her lips partially opened, waiting for Evie’s confirmation.

 

“Yeah…”

 

“Damn Blueberry, you’re a player.” Mal commented, a little dryly.

 

Why was she acting up like that? It’s not like it’s any of her business. And wasn’t she the one who wanted to make things ‘super clear’?

 

But then Mal gave Evie an amused chuckle before talking again.

 

“Who else did you write letters to?” Mal asked, her usual smirk back in place. Maybe Evie misunderstood Mal’s tone just then because her usual self was definitely back.

 

However, Evie was already fed up with this conversation.

 

“If I tell you, will you leave me alone?”

 

“…Perhaps.” Mal shrugged with a little pout. It was kind of adorable.

 

Evie had a tiny smile creeping in. She had already revealed so much, might as well finish the job.

 

“Ok, Jane Paxson.” Evie gave in.

 

“You’re not her type.” Mal pointed out.

 

“No shit, sherlock.” Evie countered. “Do you want to know the rest or not?”

 

Mal nodded.

 

“Yeah, who else?”

 

“Ok uhm…someone from Camp. And someone I went to Model UN with in the fifth grade. Happy now?” Evie finished, finding out that she was a little embarrassed over telling Mal all of this. She hadn’t told anyone this.

 

“Are we, are we good here?” Evie asked, not really waiting out for the answer, as she grabbed her stuff.

 

“Uhm…yeah, no, yeah we’re good.” Mal mumbled, taken aback by Evie sloppily getting up without even finishing her drink.

 

“Ok, good.” Evie sighted and threw her bag on her shoulder.

 

“Wa-wa-wait!”

 

Mal’s voice made Evie stop on her tracks, god knows why. I mean, she was trying to leave, right?

 

Mal looked behind her, then back at Evie. The tiniest of smirks danced on her lips.

 

“Is that sparkly bike up-front, like, is that your ride?”

 

Evie saw it. Mal’s expression was of mischief. Like she couldn’t wait to make a really snarky observation about Evie’s bike. Like she was trying her hardest to keep her smirk at bay.

 

Evie thought she looked cute though, and she wasn’t ashamed of her bike, so she nodded with a tiny smile of her own.

 

“Yeah.”

 

Mal’s pout came back as she gave Evie the most amused of looks and nodded slowly.

 

 

--

 

 

“Thank you for driving me.” Evie sincerely said, while Mal parked her jeep in front of the Grimhilde’s house.

 

Mal looked at the blue haired girl.

 

“I’m sorry about the whole jumping you thing.” Evie apologized with a sheepish shy smile. Because, no matter what, she did owe Mal that apology. “I did it without your consent, that wasn’t right.”

 

Mal eyed Evie again more cautiously before shrugging.

 

“It could’ve been worse, right?”

 

Then Mal gave Evie her own little shy smile. Evie felt like her heart was being squeezed for a moment. Mal had always been beautiful, but that girl really did age like fine wine. That made Evie look away, but not for long, as Mal spoke again.

 

“So, what are you going to say to Audrey?”

 

What was Evie going to say to Audrey? The puddle of anxiety settled in her stomach again. That and an equally big puddle of resignation.

 

“I guess I’ll have to tell her the truth.” Evie shrugged.

 

“Yeah, but…What is the truth? I mean, do like her, do you not…like her?” Mal inquired.

 

Ok, that was enough questions for the day and enough answers for Mal, Evie thought. She had already said way more than she ever intended to.

 

“That’s really not your problem Mal.” Evie answered, unbuckling her seat belt and hopping out of the car with a sly smile.

 

Mal was left inside the jeep, looking while Evie got her bike from the trunk.

 

Evie sighted, relieved that her time with Mal was finally over.

 

Or was it?

 

“Hey! Hold up!”

 

There was Mal again, stopping Evie on her tracks by grabbing her bike.

 

Evie looked over. What could Mal possibly want this time? Evie didn’t have it in her to be angry tough. She furrowed her brows, waiting.

 

“…How about…what if we don’t tell them?”

 

Evie was confused. Mal did that to her a lot.

 

“What?”

 

“What if we let people think, you know, that we’re actually together?”

 

Evie blinked.

 

What the hell?

 

“I mean, like only for a little while. And not just Audrey, I mean…everyone.”

 

Mal had lost her damn mind, that was for sure. Evie thought it was so ridiculous the next thing that came out of her mouth was a rather unimpressed chuckle.

 

“Why would you want that?”

 

But that didn’t mean she wasn’t intrigued by what she was hearing.

 

“Well, first of all, Ben was very unhappy to know you kissed me,” Mal stated like it was so obvious and went as far as mocking his usual formal way of expressing himself. “If he thinks you and I are a thing, he’ll want to get back together.”

 

Oh. Ben. Of course. Evie couldn’t understand why she thought Mal’s reason was something…different.

 

“Oh, so you want to use me as your pawn—"

 

“See, the thing is, technically you used me as your pawn first, you know, when you jumped me?” Mal swiftly pointed out knowing she was right.

 

Evie had to give it to Mal. She had a point. A fair one. One Evie couldn’t counter. But that didn’t mean she was going to agree with Mal’s insane scheme only so she could get Ben back. So, with a nod she turned her back on the purple haired beauty and kept on walking to her house.

 

She heard Mal groan.

 

“Look, you don’t have to give me an answer right away. Just…think about it. Ok?” She heard Mal call from behind her.

 

“Yep, don’t hold your breath!” Evie called back, parking her bike and walking inside her house. Safe and sound, at last!

 

She was home, which made her oblivious to Mal’s little chuckle as she made her way back to her jeep.

 

Or to Mal catching Audrey in the corner of her eye. And of course, the little interaction that followed.

 

“Hey! Briar, right?” Mal called.

 

Audrey looks up, unamused.

 

“Taking Evie home?” She asks.

 

“I guess?” Mal offers while opening the jeep door.

 

She was about to step inside when she hears Audrey’s voice again.

 

“Hey! How long are you two been hanging out?”

 

Mal wasn’t sure of what to say. But she had to say something, had she not?

 

“Uhm, not long.” Technically, it wasn’t a lie. And the expression ‘hanging out’ was very vague, so if there was some kind of misunderstanding, it really was Audrey’s fault for phrasing it wrong.

 

Audrey didn’t smile. Or react in any way. That was Mal’s cue and she took it, easily slipping inside her jeep and driving away.

 

 

--

 

 

Evie found herself lying on the floor, instead of the comfort of her bed. Looking at the now 3 missed calls from Audrey flashing on her phone screen. Not missed. Evie had ignored all of them.

 

Evie couldn’t face her. Audrey had been filling her thoughts, until Mal came and took her place. But then Audrey would come back. And then Mal.

 

Her afternoon, which was very much filled by Mal kept playing in her head. Both her kisses with Mal flooded her every thought.

 

Her years spent in Audrey’s company flashed through her eyes. All the laughs, all the hugs, all the smiles were there to stay,

 

Until they were both inside her head, trying to kick the other out.

 

Evie wasn’t sure of what was going on in her head. Or maybe she did and was too scared of facing it.

 

She decided in that moment that it was time to try something a little different.

 

 

--

 

 

Evie’s decision led her to the lacrosse field the next morning. It was filled to the brim with students running around, getting ready for practice, but that didn’t stop Evie from walking right through the mess, or from recognizing the team captain, to whom she wanted to talk to, on the other side of it.

 

“Hey! Bertha!” Evie called.

 

Mal turned around to see Evie patiently waiting and ran to meet her, taking off her helmet to reveal her messy purple hair, a look of amusement and curiosity on her face.

 

“What?”

 

Evie paused for a moment. This was happening.

 

“I can’t believe I’m saying this but…Let’s do it.”

 

Mal’s eyes sparkled with the same mischief Evie saw the day before and she wasted no time on grabbing Evie by her waist and getting on her tip toes to drop a kiss on her lips. They parted ways soon after, realizing every student was now staring at them. Evie, who really wasn’t expecting another kiss, was the one to break it, trying to steady her heart.

 

Mal was just looking at her, a cocky smirk plastered all over her face, like she had just won the lottery. Evie found it so amusing that the Mal that was the captain of the lacrosse team was the same Mal that had to get on her tip toes to kiss her.

 

Then Evie remembered they were still on the field. With everyone still looking at them like vultures, hungry to see what followed. Evie wasn’t going to give them the time of day.

 

“I’m going to Chemistry.” Evie announced. Mal seemed disappointed for a second, but bounced back just as quick.

 

“Have a nice day.” Evie tapped Mal’s shoulder and started to walk away.

 

“Uhm, yeah.” Mal mumbled, not quite sure if Evie had heard it.

 

“Carry on!” Evie called to the curious bunch of lacrosse players.

 

Mal figured it was indeed time for them to stop staring.

 

“As you were.” She ordered and everyone around her returned to their duties.

 

 

--

 

 

“So, first things first, we need to have a contract so we’re on the same page about the rules.” Evie said, sitting on the table she and Mal picked, under a tree so the sun wouldn’t toast them, as she opened her notebook.

 

“Rules? C’mon, you really know how to zap the fun out of a situation.” Mal protested, taking a sip of…whatever that energetic drink was, Evie really couldn’t tell, all she knew was that it was green. She hoped it tasted better than it looked.

 

“Well…It’s important to know where we stand on certain issues.”

 

“Ok, like what?” Mal scoffed.

 

“Well, for example, I don’t want you kissing me anymore.”

 

Mal almost choked on her drink, widening her eyes at Evie.

 

“Are you out of your mind? Who the hell is going to believe we’re in a relationship if I’m not allowed to kiss you?” She protested.

 

“Listen up, you might be the purple haired female version of the James Dean of these things but I never had a girlfriend before.” Evie calmly answered.

 

Mal couldn’t believe her eyes. Evie was serious.

 

“…God Evie, you have the references of an eighty-year-old woman.” Evie didn’t even have time to be offended because Mal was talking again. “Why does that matter?”

 

‘Wasn’t it obvious?’ Evie thought. But then she remembered Mal was the gorgeous popular captain of the lacrosse team, therefore she was used to this kind of life by now and one more relationship (even if it was a fake one) wouldn’t really make a difference for her or in her life.

 

“It matters because I don’t want all my firsts to be fake. I mean, if I’m going to be making out with someone I’m going to do it for real!”

 

“Ok sure, but you kissed me first.”

 

Again, Mal had a point. Evie did make out with her and it had been everything but a real kiss. However, Evie was not going to let Mal dictate a thing that truly meant a lot to her. So, even though Mal was right this one time, Evie didn’t waver.

 

“…This is non-negotiable.”

 

Mal resigned by groaning dramatically: “Fiiiine.”

 

“But we need to figure something out. Because I mean, people will get very suspicious if I’m not allowed to touch you.” Mal tried once more, getting up from her seat and moving around the table so she could face Evie.

 

She shoved her hands on the pocket of her purple hoodie and waited for Evie to say something.

 

Evie knew Mal was right. Again. If they were going to do this, they had to make it look real. She thought a bit about it.

 

“…You have a point. Let’s see…Oh, how about this? You can put your hand in my back pocket.” Evie proposed with an excited smile.

 

She watched as Mal scanned her from head to toe with an amused expression.

 

“Evie, you don’t ever wear pants.”

 

For the third time in a row, Mal was right. Evie loved dresses way too much and always wore them. But, just like last time, she wasn’t going to let Mal win.

 

“Well, luckily for you, Mal, I like designing my own clothes. Don’t worry, you’ll have a back pocket.” Evie replied, raising a teasing eyebrow.

 

But Mal wasn’t convinced enough. Or, at least, that’s what Evie thought.

 

“Ok but, hand in the back pocket? What the hell is that?” Mal asked, sounding confused.

 

“Sixteen Candles?”

 

Mal just kept staring at Evie with the same confused expression. Maybe she was just messing with Evie, so she kept playing along.

 

“It’s the opening image? It’s a couples’ thing…”

 

“Hmm, maybe in the 70s yeah.” Mal spoke up with a playful tone.

 

“Sixteen Candles was in the 80s. John Hughes?” Evie promptly corrected.

 

But Mal just shrugged.

 

“Nothing?”

 

Mal shook her head again, making it clear she had no idea of what Evie was talking about.

 

Mal really is impossible! How could she not know ‘Sixteen Candles’? Unacceptable!

 

“Ok! Two more rules: You have to watch Sixteen Candles with me, because it’s a classic—”

 

“Do I really?” Mal asked while she watched Evie scribble on her notebook.

 

“And we can never tell anyone that our relationship is fake because it would be too humiliating for the both of us.” Evie continued, ignoring Mal’s interruption.

 

“Duh, first rule of fight club.” Mal shrugged like it was so obvious.

 

It was Evie’s turn to be confused.

 

“What?”

 

“Are you serious?” Mal’s amusement came back as she leaned on the table. There was a pause. “You’ve never seen Fight Club?” She asked with a smirk.

 

Evie shook her head with a pout. Turns out Mal wasn’t the only one who skipped on a classic. Mal’s eyes lit up as she sat back down and pointed to the notebook.

 

Oh my god! Ok, write that down! Double feature: After we watch the…uh the candles movie we are watching Fight Club.”

 

Evie thought it was fair. So, she didn’t waste time and enounced it all out loud as she wrote the words down.

 

“Fight Club. Sixteen Candles. No snitching.”

 

Seemed easy enough, so far. Evie lifted her eyes from the contract to catch Mal staring at her in a way that she couldn’t quite place. Like she was admiring Evie. But that was ridiculous, right? Evie decided to break the moment before she started to think too much about it.

 

“Anything else?”

 

Mal seemed to give it a thought. Evie watched as Mal’s expression lit up after a few seconds and she bit her lip. Then her eyes were back on Evie.

 

“I could…uhm...I could write you notes. Every day.” Mal softly said.

 

Evie couldn’t stop staring at this point. Mal looked incredibly beautiful and the whole thing sounded like something a fake relationship shouldn’t have, or even needed. But Evie secretly loved the idea.

 

“You’d do that?” Evie quietly asked, still not sure of why Mal would go the extra mile.

 

“Sure.” Mal replied just as quietly, without taking her eyes off Evie for a second.

 

“…I mean Ben has always been a fan of the, uhm, ‘little things’ and would always be nagging me to do it, but I never did. If I start sending them to you…He’ll be pissed.” Mal then elaborated her idea, like she had to remind herself that they were about to fake a relationship.

 

There was Ben again. Of course, Mal wouldn’t do this extra thing just for the sake of keeping up the act. It was too good to be true. Evie broke eye contact. She really needed to stop being this hopeless romantic. They were faking. Evie made sure to remember that as she spoke next.

 

“Uh. How romantic.” She sarcastically noted.

 

“Oh, I almost forgot! You have to come with me to my lacrosse games and parties.” Mal suddenly said, eyeing the notebook.

 

“Then you have to drive me and my little sister to school every single day.” Evie countered. Equivalent trade.

 

“Deal.”

 

Good. Like this, Evie didn’t have to drive and Dizzy wouldn’t piss her off every day. Evie wasn’t ready for what Mal asked for next, though.

 

“But you are coming with me on the ski trip.” Mal smirked while taking the notebook and the pen from Evie, doodling the words ‘Ski Trip’ rather artistically.

 

The annual ski trip was that one trip where more students lost their virginities than senior week and prom combined. Evie never attended, obviously.

 

“Uhm…Mal? That’s like, three months from now. Do you really think we’ll still be doing this by then?”

 

Mal offered Evie another smirk.

 

“Let’s call it…a contingency.”

 

Evie gave Mal an unamused smile that led her to keep talking.

 

“Look, no one in their right minds is going to let their significant ones go without them, so if we are still doing this when the times comes…you have to go with me.” Mal explained.

 

Evie was absolutely certain that by that time, she and Mal would be ancient history. This whole thing would be over and out. And that certainty alone was the only reason why Evie said:

 

“…Ok, deal.”

 

And that was it. Evie drew two lines with their names below them, at the end of the sheet and signed her name. She handed the pen over to Mal who, with an amused eyebrow raised, scribbled her own signature on the piece of paper as well.

 

After getting the pen back, Evie raised her hand, waiting for Mal to shake it. Mal looked at Evie’s hand for a second before actually chuckling from how amused she was and offered her own hand, shaking Evie’s.

 

It looked like they had a deal.

 

Operation Fake Relationship was officially on.

 

 

--

 

 

“C’mon Dizzy, we’re going to be late for school!” Evie called opening the front door with her bag hanging from her shoulder.

 

Dizzy came out soon after, whining as per usual.

 

“I hate taking the bus! Can’t you like woman up and just start driving?”

 

Evie didn’t even take offense, a smile invading her lips as she locked the door.

 

“Actually—”

 

Evie didn’t have to explain any further as she heard a honk from behind her. Her smile grew bigger.

 

Both sisters turned around to see a jeep parking right in front of their house and Mal partially coming out of her seat.

 

“Hey! You ready?” Mal called.

 

“Oh, hell yes!” Dizzy exclaimed excitedly.

 

Evie only smiled at her and they both got inside Mal’s jeep, Evie riding shot-gun and Dizzy on the back.

 

As soon as Mal was also safely in her seat she looked behind her shoulder.

 

“Hey, little Evie, what’s that?”

 

“A yogurt smoothie?” She replied like it was crystal clear. “And my name, thanks for asking, is Demetria Tremaine-Grimhilde. Dizzy to my friends,” She continued with a sly smile. Then she became serious. “You, can call me Demetria.”

 

“Yes ma’am.” Mal replied just as seriously. Then she looked at Evie.

 

“She’s feisty.” Mal whispered raising an eyebrow and Evie gave her a proud smile.

 

“Dizzy, your seatbelt please.” Evie instructed from her seat.

 

Dizzy complied but this conversation was far from over.

 

“So, how exactly do you know my sister again?” Dizzy asked while working her way with the seatbelt.

 

Evie wasn’t sure of what to say, she didn’t exactly advertise her (fake) relationship to anyone, let alone her family. She hoped Mal knew they weren’t supposed to have this conversation with her little sister.

 

Mal however chuckled, still amused by Dizzy and decided to answer.

 

“Well uhm…I guess I’m her girlfriend.”

 

Evie almost choked on her own smoothie. ‘Damn it Mal!’

 

She could almost feel Dizzy’s eyes on her, burning the back of her neck.

 

“Hey, can I have some of that?” Mal then asked, gesturing to Dizzy’s smoothie.

 

“Sure.” Dizzy answered, handing the smoothie over to Mal.

 

Mal thanked her and took a sip. Evie was almost endeared to watch as Mal’s expression lit up and how she furrowed her brows at the drink, like a kid trying out a new candy.

 

“Oh, wow.” Mal stared at Evie. “This is really good.” Then turned to Dizzy once more.

 

“Hey, what do I have to do to get you to bring me one of these tomorrow?” Mal asked, genuinely interested in the smoothie.

 

Dizzy’s eyes lit up.

 

“You’re driving us again?”

 

“Yeah, of course.” Mal smiled.

 

“Ok, you can call me Dizzy!” Evie’s little sister shrugged with a satisfied smile, taking the smoothie from Mal’s hand and making herself comfortable in the back seat.

 

Mal leaned over to Evie.

 

“Progress.” She announced with her usual cockiness.

 

Evie couldn’t help the smile on her lips.

 

 

--

 

 

It was weird. Evie was used to being invisible. But now? People were looking as her. Talking about her.

 

All because Evie now walked through the halls with Mal. That and the fact that Evie now had back pockets where Mal could put her hand in. She sewed a few in some of her dresses but she decided it was indeed time for a change and at the moment was wearing high waisted jeans while entering the cafeteria with Mal.

 

Mal had her hand resting comfortably in Evie’s back pocket and she couldn’t deny that it felt nice.

 

Suddenly Mal used that same back pocket to twirl Evie until she was facing Mal’s bright green eyes. Evie let out a little giggle and Mal and her dashing smile soon joined her.

 

“This is for you.” Mal softly said taking out a tiny note out of her back pocket and placing it with care on Evie’s hand. The piece of paper had Evie’s name on it with a purple heart doodled below it.

 

The two girls were oblivious to Ben’s hard glare as the little interaction happened.

 

Mal tucked a strand of Evie’s hair behind her ear and used it to get closer. Evie had to hold her breath for a second as she felt Mal’s lips in her ear.

 

“Nice work.” Evie heard Mal whisper.

 

Evie nodded.

 

“I’ll see you in a bit ok?” Mal then softly asked before one last look. Then she left, leaving Evie to her thoughts.

 

It really was weird and somewhat off-putting to be congratulated on doing nothing more than accepting a note and having a nice back pocket for someone to stick their hand into.

 

That’s really where Evie’s life took her.

 

She was about to escape the cafeteria when a pair of hands, that she soon enough recognized as belonging to Lonnie, grabbed her and guided her to the nearest room.

 

“This Mal thing is insane!” Was the first thing that came out of Lonnie’s mouth as she skipped excitedly in her place. “Who would’ve known that you had a secret thing for the Queen of the cafeteria crowd?”

 

Evie truly hated to lie to Lonnie but then she remembered…what was it again? Oh yeah, ‘first rule of fight club’.

 

“I know,” Evie shrugged. “I’m just as shocked as you are.”

 

“Did Snow freak?” Lonnie asked.

 

Ugh. Snow. Evie hadn’t talked to her big sister ever since the letters came out, because she had no idea of how to tell her about Audrey’s letter or that she even had feelings for her.

 

“Actually I, uhm, I’ve been avoiding her calls so she…doesn’t know. Yet.” Evie mumbled.

 

Lonnie nodded sympathetically.

 

 

--

 

 

Talk about foreshadowing! Snow was mentioned for the first time after weeks of leaving for Scotland and a few hours later, there Evie was siting in her bed with her laptop in front of her, awaiting a call from her sister.

 

To say Evie was nervous was obviously an understatement. She was so nervous that she was even practicing what to say out loud, all with a huge dose of fake happiness and a little sarcasm in the middle, since she wasn’t going to actually say all of those things, she couldn’t.

 

Hi Snow! How’s college?”

 

So, listen, did I mention that I have a fake girlfriend? …No?”

 

Uh, yeah it’s Mal Bertha.”

 

How did it start? You know, see, that’s a funny story! Because it was definitely not because I was trying to convince your ex-girlfriend that I wasn’t in love with her, that’s for sure….”

 

Evie groaned.

 

Oh shit.”

 

And there it was. The skype ringtone that meant Snow was calling. Evie almost jumped at the noise.

 

She took a deep breath and answered the call with a ‘Hi’ a little over the top. Snow was now on her screen, her hair, her eyes and her smile as beautiful as ever.

 

Hi! Finally! I feel like we haven’t talked in forever!” Snow chirped on the other side.

 

Evie managed a smile.

 

So, tell me everything.” Snow asked with a warm smile on her face and genuine interest. Lying to her felt worse by the second.

 

“Well…” Evie started. What the fuck was Evie even going to say to her? “You know…I’m just making cupcakes tonight for Dizzy’s bake sale!” Evie managed to get out with clear fake enthusiasm. She prayed to dear god that Snow didn’t pick up on that.

 

Cupcakes? No, it’s so much easier to do brownies.” Was Snow’s answer. It was astounding how quickly she jumped back to big sister mode. Evie groaned internally, because Snow was right but what was done was done.

 

“Well, I already bought all the ingredients for cupcakes and, uhm, you’re not really here so…”

 

There was a pause. Snow gave a little smile.

 

Ok, fine. Do cupcakes, I’m sure they’ll be great.”

 

Evie watched as Snow prepared herself for the next question.

 

So, have you seen Audrey, at all lately?

 

Evie started to freak out inside.

 

“Hmm? What? No, why would I be seeing Audrey?” Evie spit out way too fast.

 

I don’t know, maybe because she’s our neighbor?” Snow lifted an eyebrow. “Is everything ok with you?” She asked, now concerned.

 

Evie had to get out of there, like immediately.

 

“You know what? I’m sorry, it’s just, uhm, I’m so excited to get to these cupcakes so I think I’m going to go do that, yeah, but it was so good to see you Snow!”

 

Wait, Evie!

 

“Ok, bye!!” Evie shouted over Snow’s voice and hung up.

 

Her hand travelled to her chest as the anxiety left her body and the guilt of lying to Snow settled in.

 

Well, off to the cupcakes she went.

 

 

--

 

 

Cooking usually calmed Evie down, but today it really wasn’t working. Evie was adding the flour and was making a mess out of it. She got flour on her apron and on her face.

 

Then she was surprised to hear the doorbell ring.

 

And even more surprised to find Mal on the other side of the door when she opened it. She managed to get an ‘Hey!’ out.

 

“Ah, who are you supposed to be, the Pillsbury Doughboy?” Mal asked with a chuckle, eyeing curiously Evie’s cheek that was white from the flour.

 

Evie cursed herself for rushing to the door without cleaning the flour first. It was obvious that she was cooking, Mal should be able to tell.

 

“No. I’m making cupcakes for Dizzy’s bake sale.” Evie explained anyway.

 

Mal hummed in response, her green eyes filled with the usual mischief.

 

“Can I come in?” She asked.

 

Evie wanted to ask why. Honestly, what was Mal even doing there, at Evie’s front door? Didn’t she have, like, way better things to do?

 

“Uh, sure.” Evie replied instead, a little unsure of why she said yes, rather than directly ask Mal what was it that she wanted. Evie opened the door to let Mal pass.

 

“Cool.” Mal gave her a tiny smile. “You do know that for this type of thing, it’s way easier to do something that you can cut in squares, like brownies? I mean, I’m just saying, my mom used to do it for me when I was a kid.” She said while she closed the door and followed Evie to the mess that was her kitchen.

 

Evie decided to completely ignore Mal’s observation. She already had it from Snow, the last thing she needed was another soul reminding her that she was unable to make the smartest decisions by herself. So, as she cracked an egg open, she asked what she should have in the first place.

 

“Mal Bertha, what are you doing here?”

 

Mal was surprised by the question.

 

“What? Did you not read my note? I’m taking you to Harry’s party.” Mal replied very seriously.

 

The truth is Evie did not read Mal’s note. She figured that it didn’t really have anything interesting, being a fake note and such.

 

But a party? Hell no. Evie didn’t do parties.

 

“I’m not going to that.” She replied with an unamused scoff.

 

Mal wasn’t having it.

 

“Uh, yah. One, Ben will be there and two, parties are in the contract.” Mal swiftly pointed out. She seemed very proud of herself for knowing that.

 

Evie really hated parties though. Evie was aware that they were indeed in the contract, but she would surely find a way out.

 

“Sorry Mal. I can’t.”

 

“Deal is a deal girl.” Mal countered.

 

“You can’t what?”

 

A third voice came out of nowhere. Evie’s father then showed up in the kitchen soon after.

 

“Oh my god, is that Mal Bertha?”

 

Mal flashed a bright, beautiful and rather dashing smile at Mr. Grimhilde. Evie saw how her dimples showed up and honestly, it was quite the view.

 

“Little Mal Bertha, your height didn’t change much but you look so grown up!”

 

“You know what they say, a true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” Mal chuckled. Evie’s dad smiled.

 

“Don’t look too impressed, she just quoted Hercules.” Evie pointed out, raising an eyebrow at Mal.

 

“Knowing your Disney is something to be proud of. I could recite the entire movie to you right now, but I will not waste my breath.” Mal proudly countered, but the slight flush in her cheeks revealed that Evie’s remark left her a little embarrassed.

 

“Relax girl, I love Hercules too.” Evie assured with a smile.

 

Mr. Grimhilde watched the two girls curiously and Mal took the cue to get on with it.

 

“So, I’m just here to pick up Evie and take her to a friend’s party,” Mal announced and before Mr. Grimhilde could protest, Mal easily made sure she didn’t get a no for an answer from the girl’s father. “The parents will be home and I will definitely have her home early. Is it alright if we go?”

 

“Yes!”

 

“No!”

 

Evie and her father said at the same time. Evie felt both Mal and her dad’s eyes on her. They both looked rather disappointed.

 

“I can’t go. I have to finish these cupcakes.” Evie excused herself, praying that her dad would back her up.

 

She wished.

 

“I think Dizzy and I can handle some cupcakes. Why don’t you go have fun with your friend, Mal Bertha, get dressed, get changed, you look like a mad woman.” Her dad replied while pushing Evie away from the balcony and from the safety of baking cupcakes. Mal watched with a smile on her lips that Evie couldn’t place, like she was happy to watch that little scene unfolding in front of her.

 

Evie couldn’t fight his strong arms so she ended up groaning loudly and started to make her way to the bedroom, resigned. She really was going to a party.

 

As soon as she made the turn to leave the kitchen she heard her dad’s voice again.

 

“No drinking, no drugs and if you’re going as more than friends, like I believe you are, no hands. Unless Evie gives you her consent, of course. But still, no funny games whatsoever. And I’m holding you to your promise of bringing her home early.” He was clearly talking to Mal.

 

Oh, her dad, always so protective of his girls. Evie still remembers the hard time he gave Snow when she and Audrey started dating.

 

“Yes sir. You got it.” She heard Mal answer very seriously, her playful tone completely gone and Evie had to chuckle.

 

 

--

 

 

Night fell fast and soon enough Mal was parking her jeep in front of her friends’ house.

 

“I don’t know Mal, I think we—”

 

“No, nop! We’re going. It’s in the contract.” Mal happily cut her off, popping the ‘p’ as they walked up the stairs and stepped inside the huge hall. The loud music could already be heard.

 

“Hold up.” Evie asked.

 

They stopped. She felt that her usual ponytail wasn’t tight enough and stopped to adjust it. When Mal looked over she stepped closer.

 

“What are you doing? Hey, give me this.” Mal softly said, her hands touching Evie’s.

 

“What?”

 

Mal then held Evie’s scrunchie and successfully took it from her.

 

“Hey! No, give that back.” Evie protested trying to take the item back, but Mal’s reflexes were way too sharp from all the lacrosse training, so her attempt was in vain.

 

“I’m keeping it.”

 

Evie pouted at that.

 

“I like your hair down.” Mal then confessed. Evie tried to fix her hair, now that it was down, Mal’s confession settling in. Mal sensed Evie’s lack of belief in those words and took out her phone.

 

“Seriously, you have such an amazing blue hair, why always have it in a ponytail when you could show off those amazing blue waves? I’m serious, you look pretty. I’ll prove it to you.”

 

Then Mal pointed her phone to Evie, who felt her cheeks so hot she covered them with her hands, to hide how red they were. And snap, Mal took the picture just like that.

 

Mal took a moment to look at the picture she just took and smiled widely. Then she showed her screen to Evie with a proud smirk.

 

“See?”

 

Evie looked at herself. Ok, she had to admit that it didn’t look that bad. She could survive a night with her hair down.

 

“Ok. But you can’t lose that. It’s my favorite scrunchie.”

 

Mal put the scrunchie on her wrist with a flourish.

 

“Deal. Now, give me your phone.”

 

Why?” Evie defensively asked.

 

“Would you just trust me?” Mal pleaded, looking serious.

 

There was a part of Evie that didn’t want to trust Mal, but her gut did trust her. So, slowly, she took her phone out of her purse and handed it to Mal.

 

Mal seemed happy. She unlocked it and made a funny duck face for the selfie she took seconds after. Evie couldn’t deny that Mal looked very cute while making funny faces to the camera. And beautiful as well.

 

“Alright,” Mal said, satisfied with the selfie. “You need to make this you new background.” She showed Evie the selfie. Goddamn, she looked adorable.

 

“Ok, but what’s your new background then?” Evie countered.

 

Mal chuckled, amused.

 

“Girl, c’mon. You know I already have it.”

 

Then, with a smirk, Mal showed how that picture she took of Evie was already set as her new background.

 

“Oh, and listen,” Mal said putting away her phone. Evie was listening. “I had an idea. I mean, it’s not really in the contract, so feel free to say no, I just felt like it would be a little cool thing and would kind of compensate for the whole no kissing and such.” Mal blurted, scratching the back of her neck.

 

Was Mal nervous? That couldn’t be. Why would she be nervous?

 

“What is it Mal?” Evie asked, trying to leave the girl more at ease.

 

“How about…we get nicknames for each other?”

 

“Come again?” Evie was surprised. Wasn’t nicknaming a little…intimate?

 

“You know what, never mind, c’mon we’ll be late.” Mal replied regretful and a little ashamed.

 

“No, wait.” Evie said. “I didn’t say no, dummy.”

 

Mal seemed a bit more relaxed.

 

“What do you suggest?” Evie asked.

 

Mal shoved her hands in her pockets.

 

“Uh, I don’t really know? I didn’t think you’d say yes.” She confessed sheepishly.

 

Evie giggled. And then thought a little about it.

 

“You know, our names aren’t really that easy…Oh I know! You can just call me E.” Evie proposed.

 

Mal’s eyes looked greener than usual. Then she smiled.

 

“Then it’s only fair that you call me M.”

 

Evie was finding it all pretty adorable, for a fake relationship of course.

 

“That’s how we’ll address each other in school and stuff and that will be how we save each other’s contact on our phones.” Mal concluded.

 

“Sounds good to me. Nice thinking, M.” Evie remarked with a smirk, trying out the nickname, how it felt to say it. It wasn’t that bad, at all.

 

Mal smirked back, looking truly happy with herself.

 

“Why thank you, E.”

 

Evie chuckled.

 

Then Mal offered her hand to Evie.

 

“Let’s go.”

 

Evie took Mal’s hand and was reminded that they still had a party to go to.

 

“Ok, but maybe we could just go back—”

 

C’moooon.” Mal cut her off and pulled Evie by the hand. Evie didn’t fight back.

 

So, off they went to that party.

Chapter Text

Evie knew that Mal was popular, but like, Mal was really popular.

 

As soon as they walked in, Mal was hi-fiving and greeting people, flashing smiles at everyone and it was almost a bit annoying how everyone seemed to love Mal. And it was stupidly ironic that this was happening right in front of Evie’s eyes while ‘successful’ by Ariana Grande was playing in the background.

 

Mal easily guided Evie through the sea of people and found the party host just as easily. Or more like, he found Mal by yelling out her name.

 

“Mal!”

 

Mal smirked and pointed as she approached the table-tennis’ table where a few people were gathered. Playing beer pong, of course.

 

“What’s up Harry?” Mal greeted.

 

“Not now Mal, I’m in the middle of an important throw.” The boy replied, teasingly waving her off like he hadn’t just called her name.

 

Mal looked at him amusedly and waited while the boy concentrated. That gave Evie time to get a better look at him.

 

No doubt the guy was pretty. Wild, messy brown hair, bright blue eyes, wicked smile and one hell of a jawline. Evie reckoned it could slice someone in half.

 

Harry then took his shot, the ball going inside the cup making everyone around him to cheer loudly. Harry howled with a big smile on his face and Mal joined in, hi-fiving the grinning boy. For some reason, overly excited Mal, made Evie smile.

 

“Told ye, I never miss!” Harry proudly said and Evie only then caught on his thick Scottish accent.

 

Mal grinned again.

 

“Welcome to my party.” Harry then announced, eyeing Evie for the first time.

 

“This is gorgeous out here! Is this your new pad?” Mal complimented, looking around. Evie had to agree. It was indeed gorgeous.

 

“Well, it’s my old man’s pad, but I’ll take credit.” Harry said with a chuckle.

 

Mal hummed in response. Seemed about right.

 

“So, who’s the lass?” Harry asked.

 

Suddenly all eyes were on Evie and she felt a little uncomfortable.

 

Mal smiled at her, to ease her nerves.

 

“This is Evie,” She introduced.

 

“Harry Hook, at yer service milady.” Harry obnoxiously introduced himself, shaking Evie’s free hand.

 

“Hands off, Hook.” Mal warned and Harry only laughed.

 

“Very funny. Anyways, that was Mister Scotland and this is Jay, Carlos and Uma.” Mal said pointing to each of them as she said their names.

 

Evie realized Mal’s friends were actually friendly and more than happy to meet her. They all shook her hand and gave her smiles. Evie didn’t feel so bad anymore.

 

Mal turned to Evie, then.

 

“Do you want a drink?”

 

Evie nodded. It certainly wouldn’t hurt.

 

“Cool, then I’ll be right back. Do you want anything?” She then looked at Harry.

 

“Ay, bring the rum, please.” Harry replied with a smirk.

 

“The dumbass likes to pretend he’s a pirate just because he’s Scottish.” Mal whispered in Evie’s ear with a chuckle and her observation actually made Evie cackle.

 

“Come sit with us, Evie.” Uma invited with a smile, knowing Mal would want them to make sure Evie was ok while she went to get the drinks.

 

Evie gave Mal a tiny look and the purple haired girl nodded. Evie then followed Uma and the boys and they all sat on the couch. Mal left to get them those drinks. Ben was parked on another couch with a blonde boy that Evie didn’t recognize. They shared a look and Evie knew Ben would be watching. Evie wondered if he had been watching her longer, but still followed Uma.

 

Evie thought she was in for an awkward hot minute but Mal’s friends surprised her again by being, like, super nice. Uma started by telling Evie how she loved her outfit and how magnificent her blue hair was. Jay told her that he actually knew her from seeing her all the time by the bleachers. Jay was totally a jock and was on the field a lot, Evie could understand why he’d remember her.

 

“…And Carlos knows you because he’s dating me.” Jay concluded with a smirk. Evie looked over to the shy white-haired boy that blushed a bit and smiled.

 

They were being cool with her and thankfully, didn’t ask any questions about the fact that she was there with Mal.

 

Someone else seemed interested though.

 

“So, Evie, dish. What’s up with you and Mal?”

 

It was the blonde boy that was keeping Ben company. Ben didn’t seem interested in the conversation at all, scrolling through his phone.

 

“Who wants to know?” Evie inquired, dryly.

 

“Leave it Chad. She’s shy, you know?”

 

Evie heard Ben say, not even bothering to look up from his phone at her. Mal’s friends watched the interaction curiously but stayed out of it.

 

Ben got up.

 

“I’m getting a refill,” He said to his friend. Then he turned to Evie. “Do you want anything? Maybe a juice box?”

 

“Actually, Mal is getting me a drink. But thank you so much for asking, though.” Evie replied with an easy smile that was sure to piss the boy off.

 

“Hey! What’s up, E?”

 

Mal had chosen that very moment to show up, with two red cups in her hands. Evie turned her head to see Mal handing her a cup, then quite literally hoping over the couch and landing lightly on the cushion next to her, throwing her hand around Evie’s shoulders with a smile. Evie was trying not to think too much about how her heart kickstarted upon hearing the nickname.

 

Mal’s friends took the opportunity to get up and join another round of beer pong.

 

“Hi, M.” Evie replied with a smile.

 

When Evie looked over, Ben was no longer there. Chad was already up and, on his way, to find his friend. Mal furrowed her brows.

 

Evie took a sip of her drink and wrinkled her nose.

 

“Hm, why is beer so vinegary?” Evie all but whined.

 

“Oh, it’s not,” Mal chuckled switching their cups. “Kombucha is, though.” She explained, taking a sip, making sure the drink was right.

 

Evie eyed Mal, her cup and how the purple haired girl seemed to have no issues with the fact that Evie had already drank from that cup.

 

“I’m driving, remember?”

 

Then, it hit Evie:

 

“You drink kombucha?”

 

Mal chuckled again, a little amused.

 

“Yeah. It’s good for your digestion.”

 

Evie raised an eyebrow.

 

“I don’t drink alcohol. I’m an athlete and I don’t really like it.” Mal explained, while searching for her phone.

 

Evie couldn’t help her tiny smile. Most teenagers these days only ever cared for parties where they could drink and had no real care for their safety or the safety of others. And if she was being honest, she always thought Mal was one of them.

 

After all, Mal was the popular lacrosse team captain. The kind to own or be a part of a sorority and still have her place at a fraternity after going to college. Because she was a woman and a jock.

 

However Mal wasn’t like what Evie thought. At all. Mal liked to be with her friends and have fun, but not like them. It was unusual and Evie liked it.

 

“Here,” Mal’s voice jolted Evie back to reality. “Take a selfie with me.”

 

Mal had her phone out and the camera showed both of them. Evie thought they looked cute as it was but she had an idea to make it look like a real couple.

 

Mal seemed to have the same idea but seeing how Evie was already leaning in, she stopped.

 

“Alright, you do it.”

 

Evie smiled a bit and closed the gap between them, placing a delicate kiss on Mal’s cheek. Mal giggled under her breath and grinned while taking the picture.

 

After that, they took a second picture, this time posing like the two beautiful girls they know they are.

 

 

//

 

 

After a bit, Mal had excused herself to go to the bathroom and Evie found herself trying to survive in the middle of the crowd when she someone tapped her shoulder.

 

“Hey! Hi!”

 

Evie turned around and found Jane smiling at her.

 

“Hey.” Jane greeted again.

 

“Wow, hi! I didn’t know you came!” Evie was happy to see a familiar face, since Mal wasn’t around.

 

“Well, here I am.” Jane shrugged jokingly.

 

Evie chuckled.

 

“So, you and Mal, huh? Guess those letters worked.” Jane then said, in a non-teasing way. She seemed happy for Evie.

 

“Uh, yeah. But you have to keep it a secret.” Evie requested.

 

“Don’t worry, your filthy little secret is safe with me.” Jane promised with a sweet chuckle. Evie giggled softly.

 

“So, what’s that you have there?” Jane asked, pointing to Evie’s cup and she decided that she might as well be nice and stay with Jane for a little while.

 

After all, she was being nice and Evie didn’t get that a lot from people that weren’t Lonnie or her family.

 

 

//

 

 

Mal sighted in annoyance. It took her ages to get to the damn bathroom and she was finally alone. If Mal was being entirely honest, she was only there because Harry was one of her best friends. And of course, the whole ‘piss off Ben thingy’. Being with Evie hadn’t been so bad after all.

 

She was drying her hands and then the door opened.

 

“Whoa. Hey, occupied.”

 

However, Ben didn’t really care and walked right inside anyway. Mal, with the towel still in her hand, had to refrain herself from rolling her eyes.

 

“Evie Grimhilde, really?” Ben asked, stepping closer to Mal. He clearly looked upset.

 

Mal scoffed.

 

“Why do you care?”

 

“You should know why.” Ben replied, like it was so obvious.

 

“Oh, c’mon.” Mal groaned under her breath. Ben had never been the sharing type while dating her and now he was acting like she should know stuff?

 

“No. I shouldn’t. You dumped me, remember, smartass?”

 

He chose to not give in to Mal’s provocation and remained silent but she saw how his jaw clenched, ever so slightly.

 

Ben then pushed her a little, so he could see himself in the mirror. He was wearing a grey shirt under a polyester blue coat with splashes of yellow, the symbol of his family’s company stamped on it and a pair of jeans.

 

“How do I look?” Ben asked with a sly smile while fixing his hair, that didn’t really need fixing at all.

 

Mal sighted. He was provoking her and whatever it was that she felt for the boy. She wasn’t so sure anymore.

 

“You look good, Ben. You always look good.” Mal replied, not even bothering to sound alive. He did always look good, she wasn’t giving him the newest scoop.

 

“Now, c’mon. Get out of my way.” Mal requested. She really didn’t want to be alone with Ben another second.

 

“You don’t want to be seen with me, I see,” Ben gave her a smile that she couldn’t quite place. “Don’t worry, I won’t tell.”

 

And with that, Ben moved out of the way. Mal immediately dashed out of the bathroom without another look at the boy, sighting in relief.

 

 

//

 

 

“Go on, try it.” Evie tried again. She was in the middle of convincing Jane to try a bit of a drink they got together.

 

“I’m not going to lie to you, that sounds nasty.” Jane retaliated, looking a little disgusted between the content of Evie’s cup and her own.

 

Evie only gave Jane a challenging smile.

 

“Bottoms up.”

 

Jane was in the middle of making a sound of utter disgust when Mal showed up.

 

“Hey. Do you want to get out of here, go get some food?” She asked Evie.

 

Evie looked between Mal and Jane, not wanting to leave the latter alone.

 

“Oh no, go ahead. Go, go.” Jane immediately said, reassuring Evie that she didn’t mind at all.

 

“Oh, ok.” Evie smiled.

 

“See you later.” Jane smiled back.

 

“Bye.” Evie said, seeing how Jane threw the cup in the nearest trashcan. Evie stiffed a laugh. Jane was fun to be around and if it weren’t for Evie’s letter, they wouldn’t be friends at all.

 

Mal only said a quick goodbye to Harry and grabbed Evie’s hand, guiding her away from the crowd. Evie liked how that felt.

 

Not everything was an utter disgrace in Evie’s life, after all.

 

 

//

 

Ironically enough, the two girls ended up at the Corner Cafe, where they ordered some food. Evie wondered how come Mal had chosen that place. Mal was never there to begin with.

 

“You did so good tonight, Ben was pissed.” Mal praised with a smirk, still chewing on her food.

 

“Yeah, I just hope he doesn’t put glass in my smoothie on Monday.” Evie pointed out, eating another of her fries.

 

Mal chuckled, seeming very content. Mal looked so good when she was happy.

 

“I love how you’re not afraid of him.” Mal praised again.

 

“Nu-uh. I’m terrified of him.” Evie replied.

 

She was half joking, half serious. She wouldn’t let Ben, or any boy actually terrify her, but at the same time, she didn’t want any trouble her way and god knows what a popular rich kid (who had every other teenager in school wrapped around his finger) like Ben could do to her every day life, while attending class.

 

She didn’t need a bunch of kids disturbing her on behalf of another kid who thought he was some kind of prince.

 

“But you don’t let him steamroll over you. Like that day when he was being a complete ass about your clothes.” Mal recalled, looking at Evie more intensely.

 

“You remember that?” Evie asked quietly, in disbelief, not really looking Mal in the eye so she wouldn’t see the little smile forming on her lips.

 

“Uh, yeah, of course,” Mal replied, perhaps a little offended that Evie thought she wasn’t paying attention. That got Evie to look at Mal and she saw the honesty coating her pretty green eyes. God, the girl was beautiful.

 

“I mean, I couldn’t say anything because we were together and everything but that leather wasn’t just cool…I thought it was kind of hot.” Mal then confessed, her voice soft and going a little quiet herself, like she didn’t want anyone else to hear her little secret.

 

Evie shyly looked away, feeling her cheeks burning.

 

“Ben’s gorgeous but he’s… well, a boy. You have way better style.” Mal continued, like she really needed to tell Evie that information.

 

Evie, who had zero experience on being complimented by people that didn’t live with her, wasn’t sure of what to say to her (fake) girlfriend.

 

“Uh… Thank you?” She muttered a little awkwardly.

 

Fortunately, Gil, the waiter, had chosen that moment to approach them.

 

“Need anything else?”

 

Both girls looked at him. Gil seemed tired and probably wanted nothing more than for his shift to end, but he still held a friendly smile for them.

 

“Uh, no. I think we’re good.” Evie answered and Mal nodded in agreement.

 

“Ok.” Gil smiled and took their empty plates away from the table, resuming his duties.

 

Evie watched as Mal shuffled in her seat so she could fish out her buzzing phone. She figured it was time to go home, so she got up and started to put her jacket on.

 

Mal looked at her phone for a second, frowned at whatever was that was on the screen, sighted and put her phone away again with no signs of an answer from her.

 

“He makes me so angry sometimes.” Mal confessed, her hand pressing her forehead.

 

“We’re still talking about him?” Evie asked with an amused smile.

 

“Like tonight, he barely talks to me when we were at the party. Then we leave and I have, like, a thousand texts from him.” Mal explained.

 

“Ok… Have you been responding?”

 

Evie’s question caught Mal off guard.

 

“Uhm… No, I… Uh, I’ll just call him when I get home… Or something.” Mal muttered as quietly as possible, sheepishly looking at Evie.

 

“So, you guys still talk on the phone then?” Evie asked a new question, crossing her arms and raising one eyebrow.

 

“I mean, not as much as we used to but yeah, sometimes.” Mal confessed and looked genuinely ashamed at Evie.

 

Evie, however, was still way too amused and Mal picked up on that.

 

What?” Mal groaned.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“You do this thing, like, you have this whole, like, judgmental face scenario going on…” Mal explained, using her hands way too much. Evie had realized it was a thing Mal did when she was nervous.

 

“Well, I guess I just find it really weird that you still talk to your ex-boyfriend on the phone.” Evie said.

 

A beat. Then:

 

“It’s not healthy.” Evie said with a very serious tone.

 

“Oh, I’m sorry and you’re the expert here? You’ve never even dated before.” Mal replied in slight annoyance.

 

“Well, you’ve only had one boyfriend,” Evie pointed out, lifting a finger between them. “And you’re completely obsessed with him. That doesn’t necessarily make you ‘The Bachelor’.”

 

Mal scoffed.

 

“Ok, one: I am not obsessed with Ben—”

 

“Ok,” Evie sat back down, this time across from Mal, so they were looking at each other. Evie tossed her hair back and calmly rested her elbows on the table. “So then, prove it. Don’t call him tonight.”

 

“You know what Blueberry, for someone who’s quiet all the time, you sure have a lot of opinions.” Mal said leaning forward, a challenging tone coming out along with her words.

 

“Well, I think that’s just because no one has ever been honest with you before.” Evie easily replied, a smirk was born on her lips. However, she leaned back, creating a safe distance between them again.

 

Mal hummed and nodded, more to herself than to Evie.

 

“Ok, fine.” She caved, sitting straight on her chair.

 

“Be honest with me, then. Why haven’t you ever dated anyone?” Mal asked, as seriously as possible. She wasn’t joking anymore, Evie could tell.

 

Evie didn’t want Mal to know the real reason as to why she never really dated.

 

“I don’t know,” Evie shrugged. “I mean I’ve never dated any boy for obvious reasons. I wasn’t always openly gay and after I came out, I guess no girl has ever liked me like that—"

 

“Lies. Lies!” Mal cut her off. Evie stopped talking.

 

“I know that those are lies because I know for a fact that CJ Hook asked you to Spring Formal last year and you, said no. Which I know because she’s Harry’s little sister and literally no one in that family is straight, anyway. Also, I’m pretty damn sure you were openly and proudly gay last year, just like you are now.”

 

“Are you keeping tabs on me, you weirdo?” Evie accused, instead of answering any of Mal’s last spoken words.

 

“C’mon, Blueberry, talk to me. I mean, what happened to ‘no secrets’? Fight Club. Remember?” Mal reminded her.

 

Evie avoided Mal’s gaze, that was very much on her, waiting for an answer. It took Evie a while to decide if it was worth it, to share with Mal her actual thoughts. Evie had never been this vulnerable with someone, especially not with someone she was just pretending to date.

 

But Mal surprised her in many ways. The more they interacted, the more Evie realized she was wrong about Mal. That she didn’t actually know Mal, at all and she realized that probably no one really did, as well. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to tell her.

 

It was settled then. Evie looked up to meet Mal’s eyes.

 

“Ok… Um, so love and dating?” Evie started, putting a lock of her hair behind her ear. Mal followed the action with her eyes and then they were back on Evie’s.

 

“I… love to read about it and it’s fun to… write about…”

 

Mal hummed, giving Evie her undivided attention.

 

“…and to think about it in my head, but…” Evie continued. She looked down for a bit, preparing herself to finish the sentence. Then back up. “… When it’s real…”

 

But then she couldn’t say it. The word was trapped in her throat. She stared at Mal, a little panicked, if she was being honest.

 

“What, it’s scary?” Mal tried to finish for her, speaking unusually softly, like a low delicate whisper.

 

Evie only nodded sheepishly, unable to speak just yet. Mal got it right and Evie wondered if Mal thought about dating and relationships the same way.

 

“Yeah…” Evie then said, her voice barely above a sad whisper. Literally. If the cafe hadn’t been empty, at that time, Mal would’ve missed it.

 

Evie looked down, embarrassed and ignored how Mal frowned deeply at that. She thought she’d feel a little better by saying it out loud, but the truth was that it made it even more real. Evie was terrified of falling in love at this point, afraid she’d get hurt. So, she hid behind books and fictional romances that only took place on fictional universes. Where, no matter what, they couldn’t hurt her. She hid behind fictional characters. Who, no matter what, wouldn’t walk away from her.

 

“Why? Why is that scary?” Mal then asked with genuine concern. Evie didn’t look up just yet, but was taken by surprise by how worried Mal seemed to be.

 

Evie slowly looked up and the sight of a worried Mal, kind of warmed her heart. That was the true Mal, right there. She wasn’t judging Evie for her fears, in fact she listened to them and was more than willing to talk it through with her. When was the last time that happened to her with someone outside of her familiar circle again?

 

“Because the more people that you let into your life, um…the more that can just walk right out.” Evie confessed and she heard her own sad tone and she felt her sad smile, spreading on her features.

 

Evie hid away again by looking down and missed how Mal’s expression changed. How Mal picked up on a piece of the rawest and realest Evie. One not many people were aware of. How Mal frowned again at Evie’s real sadness and understanding the reason behind it. It was more than just a high school relationship.

 

“Just like… Like your mom, right?” Mal asked quietly, afraid the topic wasn’t welcome. At least not coming from her.

 

Evie watched as Mal’s eyes widened in horror when she looked up at her to nod, choking on her words. Because her eyes were filled with tears.

 

“Fuck, I’m so sorry—” Mal started a hint of panic in her voice.

 

“It’s ok,” Evie cut her off reassuringly, before she panicked for real and blinked away the tears. “Seriously.”

 

“Uh, did you know that… my dad left us?” Mal then asked, clearly shifting the focus of the conversation away from Evie, for once. Evie felt bad that she made Mal talk about something that clearly bothered her, from her little voice crack, as she spoke.

 

Evie was aware.

 

“Yeah. That was a while ago, right?”

 

“Uh… I guess… I was still a kid.” Mal muttered.

 

Evie then recognized the same distressed tone she had just shown, in Mal’s voice when she spoke next.

 

“He’s got a new wife and kid now.” Mal avoided eye contact, playing with her wallet that rested on the table.

 

“I’m so sorry— “

 

“Nah, it’s… It’s fine. I just don’t usually talk about this, you know.” Mal waved her off.

 

“I just felt like maybe you’d understand, like, because of your mom.” Then she actually took a beat to realize what she said. “Uh, not that it’s anywhere near the same thing—”

 

“No, it’s totally fine. I completely understand.” Evie cut her off. Sure, not the same thing. But at the same time, equally as painful.

 

She felt sorry for the smaller girl, not because she thought Mal needed her pity, but because she knew what it was like to lose a parent. She wasn’t sure of what could hurt more, at this point. Her mother, unfortunately wasn’t there anymore and there wasn’t a day that went by that Evie didn’t miss her in some way. Evie would find herself more often than not quietly crying under her blankets, whenever she felt like the world was crumbling around her. Her mom would totally know how to ease her mind. Those were the times Evie missed her the most, the times where her dad tried his very best, but somehow it wasn’t enough. He wasn’t her. Evie would give anything to have her back. But it wasn’t like Mrs. Grimhilde had a choice to ‘leave’.

 

But Mal’s dad, however, consciously walked out of his daughter’s life. Divorces happen, and it sucked big time, but the fact that her father didn’t seem to want anything to do with Mal, his daughter, but was willing to let another kid, that wasn’t even his biologically speaking, into his life and treat him or her like he should treat Mal despite of not wanting his ex-wife around anymore, was a tough pill to swallow. He was alive and doing all the dad things with someone else. And Mal had to ‘watch’. It was sort of an ambiguous loss. She had lost him, but he was still there, tormenting her with his new happy family, completely aware of what and who he left behind.

 

“Yeah it’s… It’s hard, huh?” Was the only thing Evie could say.

 

Mal’s jaw clenched and she swallowed (probably her emotions) hard.

 

“It’s whatever.” Was what she answered.

 

Evie almost smiled because that was a very Mal thing to say.

 

“We don’t have to talk about it anymore, but it’s not whatever.”

 

Mal seemed to relax, maybe because Evie was right.

 

“You know, I think it’s funny, you uh, you say that you’re scared of commitment and relationships… but you don’t seem to be afraid to be with me.” Mal pointed out, deflecting Evie’s observation.

 

“Well, there’s no reason to be.” Evie answered easily.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Mal leaned forward again.

 

“Why’s that?” She asked, curious.

 

“Because we’re just pretending.” Evie said with a little shrug.

 

Seemed pretty obvious, right? None of them had nothing to lose by doing this. That was what helped Evie sleep at night. She was doing this, because she was sure she wouldn’t get hurt. Right?

 

It seemed obvious, until Evie noticed how Mal’s entire complexion hardened, how her jaw clenched, a little harder than before and an unsettling silence fell upon them. Evie didn’t have the time to figure out what that was, because Mal was already shoving her belonging in her pockets.

 

“Right. Of course, Evie Grimhilde, ladies and gentlemen, you can always count on her to be honest. Always.” Mal then said while getting up and Evie couldn’t quite place the girl’s tone.

 

What the hell happened?

 

“Wait, Mal?”

 

Mal hummed while picking up her jacket, not looking at Evie.

 

“Are we cool?”

 

“Yeah dude. Yeah, we’re fine Blueberry,” Mal quickly answered, like she had been programmed to give out that answer. Like she was expecting the question already. “Thank you, for coming to the party tonight.”

 

Evie was still processing the last thirty seconds and only nodded with a bit of a smile, trying to make things right. Then she watched as Mal left the Cafe.

 

She should be going home as well, but something else settled on her gut. Evie couldn’t help but to think that somehow, in some way, what she said had hurt Mal’s feelings and it was enough to make her leave.

 

But why would Mal be hurt in the first place? It wasn’t like they were, like, the real deal? And Mal did ask for honesty. The truth was that they were pretending. But what if it was something else that Evie said that got to Mal?

 

Evie tried to not overthink her entire night, or else she’d go crazy. So, she made her way home, even though that ugly feeling didn’t actually leave her chest.

 

She walked inside and up the stairs, until she was in the safety of her room. Evie closed the door behind her and leaned against it, closing her eyes momentarily.

 

Then her phone beeped.

 

Evie fished it out of her purse and unlocked it, finding an Instagram notification. She opened it.

 

‘mal_b tagged you in a post.’

 

Evie then was greeted with the two pictures she took with Mal at the party. The cheek kiss and the pretty pose one.

 

Evie smiled at the pictures and her heart kickstarted when she read the caption:

 

‘M & E.’ Followed by a blue heart and a purple heart emoji.

 

Her smile didn’t waver as she scrolled to the comment section and wrote down a reply.

 

‘You’re such a dork, M!’ She hit send and exhaled, pressing her phone against her chest.

 

Mal’s reply came way faster than she thought. Evie looked at her phone again.

 

Heart eye emoji. Purple demon emoji.

 

Evie’s heart warmed up. Again, such a Mal thing to do.

 

Evie went to bed with a stupid grin on her face and she couldn’t tell you why.

 

 

//

 

 

Evie realized that fake dating Mal was getting easier and easier.

 

She always ate with Mal at the cafeteria and was even becoming actual friends with some of her friends. Like Harry, who was just now joining them at lunch.

 

He sat down, and put his tray on the table across from him, where a smirking Uma was sitting with Jay.

 

“Don’t touch my fries, lass.” He warned and then turned to Evie.

 

“Listen, Evie. I was thinking about yer name. Ay? Evie Grimhilde. If ye put them together ye get Grevie! Get it? Grevie!” Harry said in a sing-song enthusiastic tone.

 

Mal was trying her very best to stiff her laugh, very used to her friends being like, really stupid. That’s why she liked them.

 

“Are you, are you on something?” Evie asked, trying to sound concerned.

 

“Ay, I’m on to a new nickname for ye,” He grinned. “Oi! I said no touching my fries!” Harry suddenly yelled seeing how half of them were already gone. Jay and Uma clearly couldn’t care less and were munching on his lunch. Carlos, who joined them at some point, shrugged sympathetically.

 

“Wankers.” Harry cursed under his breath but then turned his attention to Evie who was watching the scene unfold with an amused expression.

 

“Anyway, Grevie. It’s funny because it sounds like ‘gravy’. Ay?” Harry said with a grin.

 

“You’re a dumbass, I hope you know that.” Jay called from the other table.

 

“Also, your fried were good. Nice one Evie, thanks to you, we stuffed our faces with fries.” Uma added with a happy smirk.

 

Evie couldn’t help but to smile and look at Mal, who also looked peacefully happy.

 

They were nothing like her old friends. But it was fun to be part of a group that actually liked to have her around.

 

There were still moments where Evie felt like she wanted to disappear. Pretty much like the one she was experiencing now, as Audrey passed by the cafeteria and stared directly at Evie.

 

They would have to talk, eventually.

 

 

//

 

 

Eventually came around sooner than Evie wanted to. The doorbell rang and Evie, home alone at the time, had no way out of it this time.

 

She opened it, to find Audrey on the other side, relief on her face.

 

“Can we talk now?” She asked quietly.

 

Evie nodded and stepped out of the house, closing the door behind her. Audrey sank into one of the green chairs the Grimhilde’s had on their front porch and sighted.

 

“I can’t believe you’re dating Mal.” Was the first thing out of her mouth.

 

Evie leaned on the nearest wall and gave Audrey a frown.

 

“Why? I mean, is it so unbelievable that someone could like me?” Evie asked, surprised with Audrey’s tone.

 

“No, Evie. Of course not. It’s unbelievable that… You’re like this sweet, innocent girl and she’s…She’s a complete bitch. I don’t get it.” Audrey sounded so condescending that for a second there Evie couldn’t believe it was Audrey she was talking to. It wasn’t like her to be like this, at least not directed at Evie.

 

“You know you make me sound really boring, right, Audrey?” Audrey rolled her eyes. “I’m not that innocent.” Evie defended herself.

 

Audrey gave Evie a short humorless laugh.

 

“Yeah, ok.” Audrey scoffed.

 

Was that what Audrey really thought of Evie? That she was plain, boring and innocent?

 

“Ok,” Evie dryly repeated, very much offended and hurt. “Yeah, great. If that was the reason you came over to talk to me then I—”

 

“No, it’s… I… Wait. Please.” Audrey stumbled with her words trying to stop Evie who was already half way to the door.

 

Evie turned around and crossed her arms impatiently.

 

“Look…” Audrey started but the silence that followed suggested that she wasn’t really sure of how to keep going. “I’m sorry I snapped. I don’t think those things of you, I just… I’m just…This is weird, Evie. You’re like, my best friend, you know?”

 

Evie knew. That was the problem. So, she waited.

 

“Look, did you mean what you wrote on the letter?”

 

Evie didn’t answer right away. Did she? She didn’t really know.

 

“I don’t know. Ok? That was a long time ago.”

 

“Not for me, though. Evie, you have to understand, this is all new to me…” Audrey sounded really nervous. “I’m trying to catch up, alright?”

 

“I get it Audrey, I do. The thing is, there’s nothing to understand. Look, you should have never seen it, at all—”

 

“But I did see it. And it feels wrong to go about my days, pretending I didn’t. I feel like I’m trashing on your feelings, or something.”

 

Evie knew she had left Audrey in a tricky position, shutting her out and literally pretending like she didn’t also get a letter. Evie suddenly felt bad that Audrey was sitting on her porch with that confused frown. A frown that was all Evie’s fault.

 

“Have you talked to Snow?” Evie asked, avoiding Audrey’s observation.

 

“Snow’s not even talking to me. You really don’t have to worry about that.” Audrey sadly answered. “Seriously E, what am I supposed to do?”

 

“Audrey I… I don’t know.” Evie stepped back, because she was on the verge of tears and it was the last thing she needed right now.

 

“That’s it, Evie? Snow dumps me, you’re dating Mal and now we can’t even be friends?”

 

Evie sighted.

 

“I want to! But I don’t know how to be friends with you like this.” Evie confessed in distress.

 

Audrey mirrored Evie’s distress, not really know what to say to that.

 

“God, if I knew I was going to lose both of you like this I wouldn’t—”

 

“Stop. Please don’t finish that sentence.” Evie cut in before Audrey said something she’d regret.

 

Evie opened the door to step inside.

 

“Evie, you can’t just leave. At least promise we’ll talk again.” Audrey tried.

 

Evie wasn’t really sure about that promise, but Audrey deserved it. This mess was Evie’s fault.

 

“We will. I want to be friends Audrey, I really do. I kind of have a lot going on, as well.” Evie confessed and she wasn’t lying.

 

“With Mal, yeah, I know.” Audrey sighted.

 

With a sad smile, Evie stepped inside the house, missing how Audrey’s eyes filled with tears as she quietly left.

 

 

//

 

 

Evie was lost in thought as laughter filled her living room. The movie they were watching, forgotten because Mal was in the middle of a pillow fight with Dizzy, both girls giggling madly.

 

She just hoped Dizzy wasn’t getting too attached. Evie wished they had kept their families out of it altogether.

 

However, movie nights at Evie’s place, turned into an invitation to go over for dinner at Mal’s.

 

 

//

 

 

“Nervous?” Mal asked as she parked her jeep in front of her house.

 

“That obvious, uh?” Evie replied with a nervous chuckle.

 

“My mom is really nice. You have nothing to worry about. I promise.” Mal reassured her with a gentle smile.

 

And Evie was glad to see Mal was absolutely right.

 

Dinner went by very peacefully. Maleficent, Mal’s mother was as delightful as the girl described her to be. Evie could see where Mal had gotten those bright green eyes and her pale skin. The older woman however, was a blonde.

 

“So, I see you share my daughter’s love for hair dye.” Maleficent commented with a smile. “I really like the blue.”

 

Evie blushed a bit.

 

“Thank you very much ma’am.”

 

“Oh please, call me Maleficent. Ma’am makes me feel old!” The woman laughed with a snort.

 

“So, you’re a blonde underneath the purple?” Evie turned to Mal.

 

“Yeah. And by the looks of your sisters, I’d say you’re a brunette.” Mal took a guess with a smirk.

 

“You’re correct.” Evie chuckled.

 

It wasn’t like it was actually news to them. But for both girls, the purple and the blue had been there longer than the blonde and brunette had. They didn’t really have many memories of each other with their natural hair color.

 

Mal squinted, taking a good look at Evie.

 

“Nah, I dig the blue more. You’d be pretty as a brunette, though.” Mal then said.

 

“I also prefer the purple, in case you’re wondering.” Evie smiled back.

 

Maleficent watched the interaction curiously.

 

“I’m actually the one who helps Mal with her purple dye. I’ve done that since she was a little kid. Is that how it works for you?”

 

“Mom,” Mal interrupted quietly. “I told you—”

 

“Oh,” Maleficent cut her off, in realization. “I’m so sorry, my dear. I didn’t mean to—”

 

But Evie smiled.

 

“Actually, the first time I ever did it, my mom did help me with it. It was for a Halloween party. After that, I realized I liked it and here we are. She loved Halloween.” Evie explained, her nostalgic tone evident.

 

Maleficent and Mal relaxed at that reply.

 

And Evie really liked them.

 

 

//

 

 

After dinner Evie found herself sitting on Mal’s porch. With Mal by her side, of course.

 

“Hey, E,” Mal softly called Evie’s attention. “I’m sorry about what my mom said to you.”

 

Evie felt a little endeared that Mal addressed her by the nickname they agreed to use. She wondered if Mal had forgotten that she didn’t have to when they were alone. Evie took Mal’s hand, as a reassuring gesture.

 

“No, it’s ok,” Evie said. “Honestly, you know, it’s nice to talk about her like it’s normal.”

 

Mal looked at Evie very intensely.

 

“Like it’s not some tragedy.” Evie then added.

 

Mal nodded quietly, in understanding.

 

There was a moment of silence but Evie had something she wanted to ask.

 

“Can I ask you something?”

 

Mal looked up.

 

“Hm?”

 

“… Is it weird not having your dad around?” Evie practically whispered, afraid it was too personal of a question.

 

Mal then looked up, at the stars, thinking about Evie’s question.

 

“That’s a complicated question. I was very young when he left, you know? I don’t have a lot of memories of and with him. And I was too young to understand what was really going on. What was really weird to me, was not seeing my mom as happy as she was. It bothered me,” Mal explained, her tone as quiet as Evie’s question.

 

Evie nodded, to let her know she was listening and that it was ok.

 

“I only truly felt bad when I discovered, two years ago, that he was married to a woman with a kid of her own. Now it’s not as weird as it used to be, though.”

 

Evie was about to open her mouth to say Mal didn’t have to go any further but she kept talking before Evie could.

 

“You know, sometimes I walk around the house and see how there’s no trace of him anymore. Like he’s not in any of the photos. That’s when I really miss him. Or perhaps, I miss what I wish he would’ve been with me. But then I think about everything he’s doing with his new family, that he never did with us, with me. And I get so mad, I’m glad that he’s gone.” Mal then confessed, bitterness coating her eyes, her voice, her everything.

 

“You don’t mean that,” Evie softly replied. “You can be mad at someone and still miss them.”

 

Mal seemed to take in Evie’s words. She took a moment to nod to herself, like making sure to remember those words.

 

And then:

 

“I bet you really miss your mom, huh?”

 

Evie didn’t know Mal could speak so softly. So carefully.

 

“… Yeah,” Evie whispered back, not looking at Mal as she did so. “Every day.”

 

Mal gave Evie a look that she couldn’t decipher. It showed deep care. And something more, perhaps.

 

“…But, you know, it’s… It’s been so long now that, like…” Evie’s voice pulled Mal out of her trance. “Ok, it’s like this: I’ll be doing my homework, or I’ll be washing dishes or something and I’m thinking of my family and I… I forget there was a time where it wasn’t just my dad and my sisters,” Evie’s voice came quiet and ashamed.

 

Mal was listening with that care that Evie saw just a few moments ago.

 

“…And it only happened for like a quarter of a second, but… I feel really, really guilty about it.”

 

Mal’s silence was, in a way, comforting. It was like she knew that just being there was exactly what Evie needed.

 

“I’ve never told anyone that before.”

 

Mal’s eyes sparkled for a brief second. Then it was gone, just like that.

 

“I mean, I get it. It makes sense to me. I, uh… I don’t really hate my dad, I didn’t mean it like that. At least he’s not… You know…” Mal then mumbled, a little unsure of her usage of words.

 

Evie, however squeezed Mal’s hand with a tiny smile.

 

“I get it.”

 

“Sorry.”

 

“Stop apologizing,” Evie chuckled. “It’s actually really nice to have someone to talk to about this stuff.”

 

A beat.

 

“You’re a good listener, M.”

 

Mal cracked a little smile. Little but genuine.

 

“Yeah?”

 

Evie hummed with a smile of her own.

 

“Why, thank you, E,” Mal replied. “You are, too.”

 

Evie giggled.

 

“Thank you.”

 

Mal then rested her head on Evie’s shoulder and silence engulfed them. It was a good type of silence, though. Comfortable. Easy.

 

Evie liked the way it felt, having Mal there with her and was beginning to understand exactly why.

 

As to not overthink, Evie closed her eyes and let her head rest on Mal’s, letting both of them enjoy the incredibly peaceful moment.

 

Evie realized just how much she craved for little moments like that one. For the first time, her life resembled the ones she loved to read about.

 

Who would want it to be over?

Chapter Text

Just like that, December fell upon Alder High.

 

And Evie realized that being with Mal was so easy that sometimes she’d let herself pretend it wasn’t fake.

 

The life she had now with Mal, with Mal’s friends that she now believes are also hers, is one that made Evie happy.

 

Evie had learnt a bunch of new things about Mal. Some from the girl herself, some from her friends.

 

Evie’s favorite was how she now knew that Mal had an art class because turns out she was really talented and creative. When she questioned Mal about it, the girl smiled and handed Evie a sketch book with a brown cover and told her that she could see it, if she wanted to.

 

Evie was marveled with all the drawings of landscapes, of objects that Mal found pretty, of people Mal cared about. Evie found drawings of Mal’s mother, Harry, Carlos, Jay, Uma and… herself. A beautifully crafted portrait of herself, with her blue wavy hair down, just like Mal seemed to like it better.

 

She had shed a tear, one Mal wiped away with a proud smile.

 

Evie got used to this life, a life she didn’t hate. She loved every second of it. She noticed the changes in herself.

 

When she looked in the mirror, she realized she did like her hair down more than she thought and found herself completely forgetting the ponytails. Mal had given her the tools to build the confidence Evie needed to wear her hair down.

 

In fact, Mal had given her the tools for her to be a happier more carefree version of herself. She laughed loudly with Mal and her friends, so hard she could barely breathe and would always end up in tears.

 

She was out of the house way more often, to meet Mal for movie nights at the theater, to meet Mal and the gang so they could just hangout and chill, sometimes they’d find themselves back in Harry’s place for a party or two.

 

Evie realized, thanks to Mal, that she was always meant to be like this, that she loved it and just how painful it would be when the time for her life to go back to normal came.

 

And that was a worrying thought, so she pulled herself away from it.

 

“Remind me again why we have to eat these Subway sandwiches under the bleachers?” Evie asked Lonnie who was happily munching on her own.

 

“Dude! We can’t have these contraband Subway cups out in the open,” Lonnie replied, patting Evie’s shoulder. “Don’t want the powers-that-be catching on to my lunchtime truancy vibes.” She added looking up to the sky, making Evie giggle.

 

Their sudden happiness was interrupted by a voice. They heard how two people sat on the bleachers right above them.

 

“… You don’t even care about me anymore, Mal. Literally all you do is hang out with her.” The first voice was clearly an upset Ben.

 

“You’re being ridiculous Ben. You broke up with me. What was I supposed to do? Wait around for you like an idiot while you’re off with some preppy rich girl?” Mal, who sat across from him replied, annoyed.

 

“We should get out of here, this sounds private.” Evie whispered, slightly panicked.

 

“Are you insane? That’s your girlfriend! And they’re talking about you!” Lonnie whispered back, incredulous.

 

“…Seriously, that girl doesn’t even care when I talk to her.” They heard Ben continue his rant.

 

“She’s just not at your beck and call like I used to be, like everyone seems to be. That’s why you’re upset,” Mal huffed. “Look Ben, you can’t keep doing this to me.”

 

Evie heart sunk a bit, when Mal’s voice came soft and maybe a little sad.

 

There was a beat.

 

“Is she coming on the Ski Trip?” Ben asked.

 

“Yes, she is.” Mal replied instantly.

 

“But that’s our thing!” Ben protested.

 

“No, it’s not. Because we’re not together anymore. Why does this matter to you so much? You have a girlfriend.” Mal accused, even though her voice didn’t sound as aggressive as it probably should have.

 

“Yeah… But maybe by then I won’t anymore.” Ben provoked, making Mal scoff. She didn’t push the provocation or its implications away, though.

 

“Dude!” Lonnie called, snapping Evie out of the conversation. “Ben is after your girl.”

 

Evie closed her eyes, exhaling softly. Ben really was trying to get Mal back and she wasn’t putting up much of a fight.

 

And Evie didn’t know why the hell she felt so sad about it. That was the whole point of this entire thing, right? Get Audrey off her back about the letter and fix Mal and Ben’s relationship.

 

Worse. Evie did know, deep down. And it was not going to end well for her, unless she did something about it.

 

 

//

 

 

“…I’m sorry, I know you don’t want to hear about Mal stuff, but I guess I needed to talk to someone I thought might understand. I just feel like the more used to her I get, the more it’s going to hurt when she inevitably gets back together with Ben and I’m so mad at myself because I should’ve seen this coming.” Evie found herself talking to Audrey in one of the school halls, not really knowing to who else to turn to.

 

Audrey listened carefully.

 

“Despite what you might think, I’m always here for you. And I mean, I don’t know what else to tell you, it sucks. But don’t beat yourself up. You see the good in people. That’s one of my favorite things about you.” Audrey quietly answered to Evie’s rant.

 

Evie looked at Audrey’s careful but worried expression and realized just how much she had missed the brunette in her life.

 

Evie’s next sentence was interrupted by the school bell.

 

“E!”

 

There was Mal, fresh out of class looking confused.

 

Audrey looked between the two girls.

 

“Do you want me to wait?” She asked.

 

“You better not.” Evie replied grabbing her bag.

 

“I’ll see you later, then?” Audrey tried.

 

Evie nodded while walking across the hall to join Mal. As soon as Audrey was out of sight, Mal spoke as they walked side by side.

 

“Dude, what do you think people are going to say when they see my girlfriend cozying up next to Audrey?” She asked in distress, and if Evie didn’t know any better, she could even say that Mal was jealous. But Mal didn’t get to talk this time.

 

“Well, dude, what do you think people are going to say when they hear you’re practically begging to get back together with Ben on the bleachers?” Evie clapped back without even a glance to the smaller girl.

 

“Oh, so what, you’re spying on me now?” Mal scoffed, her voice raising an octave and not answering Evie’s question.

 

“Not intentionally.” Evie said, offended that Mal would think that of her in the first place.

 

“And I wasn’t begging! If you really heard the conversation, then you should know!” Mal added.

 

“Whatever, Mal.”

 

Evie turned to a hall that was thankfully empty.

 

Mal followed her.

 

“Ok, so I was talking to Ben. So, what? You don’t even post about us on your Instagram.” Mal accused, shoving her hands inside her pockets.

 

“Yeah, because I don’t want my sisters to see.” Evie replied like it was so obvious.

 

“Yeah, like Dizzy is going to care!” Mal scoffed.

 

“She does care, Mal! More than she should! I already told you, you need to stop coming over. I don’t want her to get attached. We weren’t supposed to bring our families into this mess.” Evie practically yelled.

 

Mal frowned for just a second, then it was gone. Was she hurt by what Evie said?

 

“And I already said I wanted joint custody of that kid.” Mal tried to lighten the mood with a joke, one Evie clearly didn’t find amusing. Evie was sure that not even Mal could find the humor in her observation right now.

 

“But the Instagram thing isn’t about Dizzy. It’s about Snow.” Evie then explained.

 

“Still haven’t told her, huh?” Mal guessed.

 

“No. And I don’t think I can. I’d have to explain the reason behind all this. She’s going to hate me.”

 

Evie wasn’t even skyping with her anymore. Their interactions fell really short, consisting of text messages and phone calls that never lasted long. She felt bad about it, but her life was such a mess, Snow hearing about how it started because Evie wanted to convince Audrey that she wasn’t in love with her would only make it worse.

 

“I don’t think that’s true, at all.” Mal softly said.

 

But Evie wasn’t listening anymore.

 

“Look Mal… I don’t think either of us thought this was going to go on for this long, ok? But me and Audrey are cool, or we’re getting there. Ben is sufficiently jealous. I think we need to call it.” Evie then said, her heart breaking a little as she said those words.

 

And she meant it. Things were getting out of hand and Evie truly wanted off before she got seriously hurt. Because Evie had come to a scary realization, not so long ago.

 

Mal, however wasn’t having it.

 

“I can’t believe you’re trying to break up with me before the Ski Trip! That’s in the contract!” Mal reminded her with a bit of a desperate tone. Why was she being this persistent?

 

“Only if we’re still together.” Evie pointed out, crossing her arms. Mal wasn’t the only one who remembered the contract.

 

“We are still together, E! You’re just trying to pull out because you’re scared!” Mal accused and she was definitely not wrong.

 

“What do I have to be scared about?” Evie decided not to show it by any means, though.

 

Mal sighted, a little defeated but stared deeply into Evie’s eyes as she did so.

 

“You tell me, Blueberry.”

 

But how could Evie tell her fake girlfriend that she can’t go skiing with her, because she’s starting to have real feelings? That she wished more than anything that Mal’s reason for doing this wasn’t to get back with Ben, but because she wanted to be with Evie?

 

That she was afraid to lose not only Mal, but also the friends she made through Mal?

 

That she didn’t want this life to end? That she didn’t want to go back to being invisible? That she wanted to kiss Mal and that she meant it this time?

 

She couldn’t. So, she thought of something else. Something she was sure would work.

 

“… I’ll go if Lonnie goes.”

 

 

//

 

 

Evie opened her house door just in time to catch the last bit of the conversation Lonnie and her dad were having, while waiting for her.

 

 

“…I'm not denying your right to put food on the table for your family. I just think it's odd that a man would want to become a gynecologist. Like when you were in college, you thought: ‘I'd really love to look at vaginas all day’.” Lonnie was saying, sitting on the balcony with a very serious expression.

 

“I’m going to leave the kitchen now, Lonnie. And pretend this didn’t happen.” Mr. Grimhilde replied with what Evie would classify as an amused little smirk.

 

She chuckled softly and then made her presence known.

 

“Hi, guys.”

 

“Hey!” Lonnie greeted with a smile.

 

“Hi, sweetheart.”

 

“Hi, Daddy.” Evie greeted, hi-fiving her dad.

 

“So, what's up?” Lonnie asked, dragging her feet to the couch. “Why is your girlfriend harassing me about coming on the ski trip? You know I don't do school functions.”

 

Evie watched as Lonnie threw herself into the couch, while she took off her jacket and was quick to join her friend.

 

“Yes, and that is why I told her I would only go if you would, knowing that you wouldn't.” Evie explained with a bit of a proud smile.

 

Lonnie scanned Evie.

 

“Wait...You have to go! Ben is definitely going to make a move on Mal if you stay home!” Lonnie claimed, like it was so obvious.

 

“So, let him,” Evie rolled her eyes. “I'm sick of having his little vulture eyes on me all the time.”

 

“Dude, no!” Lonnie slapped Evie’s arm in disbelief.

 

Evie was about to protest but Lonnie wouldn’t let her.

 

“Ben always gets what he wants and that’s bullshit! You get Mal.”

 

“Lonnie—” Evie tried.

 

“I'll make sure of it. I'm coming on that trip.” Lonnie announced, clapping her hands.

 

“Wait, what? You’re supposed to back me up!” Evie protested with a groan. If there’s one thing she wasn’t expecting, was for this plan of hers to backfire.

 

“I am backing you up!”

 

“You just want another excuse to tell Ben to shove it because you don’t like him. I’m getting a bit tired of you using me to do that.” Evie protested once more with a bit of a pout.

 

Lonnie sighted.

 

“…Ok, yes. I do want to see him squirm like a worm on a hook. But, Evie, it's not just that,” Lonnie’s expression became more serious and she shifted on the couch so she could really look Evie in the eye. “Since you've been with Mal, well, I don't know, Eves, I've never seen you so happy.” Evie heard her best friend confess and the honesty coating her voice gave Evie some pause.

 

“… Honey, she is right.”

 

Both girls turned around to see Mr. Grimhilde sitting on the stairs with a glass of wine and a bit of a guilty expression. Evie raised an eyebrow.

 

“I'm sorry, I wasn't eavesdropping, but it’s been so long since I’ve seen you have so much fun! Going to parties and making new friends!”

 

A pause.

 

“You made your old man very happy.” He confessed with a proud smile on his face. A smile that warmed Evie’s heart.

 

Mr. Grimhilde then got up and retired to his room, leaving the two girls by themselves on the living room.

 

Lonnie dropped a hand on Evie’s shoulder.

 

“That was kind of sweet. Right?” Lonnie chuckled.

 

“Yeah. Right.” Evie smiled at the girl.

 

Evie knew Lonnie and her dad were right. Because she could feel it herself. She felt more relaxed, more carefree, happier.

 

And it had been such a change that her best friend and her father noticed.

 

Evie realized that her happiness wasn’t just something she could feel. Her happiness rubbed off on her loved ones and lifted their spirits. They were happy for her and along with her.

 

The last couple of months had been amazing, Evie couldn’t lie. She had already admitted to herself that she didn’t want it to end. Her own happiness was worth fighting for. Maybe she should fight for Mal.

 

However, Mal wanted Ben. They were in a fake relationship and that was Evie’s main problem. Mal didn’t want her back. Whatever feelings Evie had now, were one-sided.

 

Evie decided she was going to the ski trip, only because it was in the contract. After it, she would end this whole thing with Mal.

 

For everyone’s sake, especially her own.

 

 

//

 

 

Evie didn’t really mind waking up early. She did it often.

 

But it was freezing, inside, outside, you know, everywhere. And that, bothered Evie. She was already regretting her decision of going on that trip.

 

“I can hear you think, you know that?”

 

Evie snapped out of her internal rant against winter time in general upon hearing her dad’s voice as he parked the car near the big bus that was meant to take them all to the ski lodge.

 

She looked over at him, to find him smiling.

 

“Everything is going to be fine, sweetheart. Just promise me that you won’t hide under your blankets all weekend.” He said playfully.

 

Evie chuckled. Her dad knew her so well.

 

“I promise. I have to go now.”

 

“Evie?”

 

Evie hummed in response while unbuckling her seat belt.

 

“I don’t need to have ‘the talk’ with you, have I?”

 

Evie froze and her jaw dropped. He had to be kidding.

 

“Do you know me? At all?

 

He gave her a stern look.

 

Oh my god. I am leaving right now.” Evie groaned, opening the car door.

 

“I was kidding. Ok, maybe I was a bit serious. Be safe, ok?” Her dad then said, a little smile on his face.

 

“Thanks for the ride. See you in a couple of days.” Evie replied, already out of the car and taking out her bag from the back seat. Like hell she was going to fuel that conversation.

 

“Don't forget to have fun!” Her dad called with a stupid grin. Evie sighted and smiled back. Her dad could be such a dork, sometimes.

 

Evie got in line to enter the bus. There was no sign of Lonnie. She either wasn’t coming or was already inside. Evie prayed that Lonnie was already in the bus, so she’d have an excuse to not sit with Mal.

 

She could see Ben, joining the line, from the corner of her eye. Luckily, soon enough was her turn to hop inside.

 

“Grevie!!”

 

Evie watched as Harry’s eyes lit up while he was ticking off the students’ names on a piece of paper as they went inside the bus. They boy grinned at her.

 

“Ye came!” He chirped, looking for her name on the list, ticking it off.

 

“I guess I did,” Evie replied, unable to not be nice to the enthusiastic boy. “You’re in charge?”

 

“Ay, sort of,” He chuckled. “I’ll see ye there, then. Off ye go lass!”

 

“Harry! Hurry up, you weirdo! It’s freezing!”

 

Evie turned around to find Uma, Jay and Carlos waving at him. Uma was the one yelling at him, of course.

 

“C’mon now, lass, this isn’t a race!” Harry yelled back.

 

Evie giggled. She realized she became really fond of those people. Would they still be friends, if Mal and Evie were to go their separate ways? No, not ‘if’. ‘When’.

 

Knowing she was also slowing the whole process down, she finally stepped inside the bus and was happy to feel the warmth inside. She quickly scanned the bus, finding Lonnie in one of the back seats, wearing at least ten layers of clothes, fast asleep.

 

Then her eyes drifted to Mal, who was also sitting alone and waved at her with a sleepy, yet sweet smile.

 

Evie’s gut did the thing, but she couldn’t let it win over her. So, she started walking towards the empty seat, next to Lonnie.

 

As soon as Mal noticed Evie wasn’t planning on stopping by her side, she stood up immediately.

 

“Whoa. Hey. Where are you going, E?” There was a frown on Mal’s face and Evie felt guilty for a second. ‘No, get it together!

 

“I'm going to sit with Lonnie.” Evie replied, playing with the material of her winter gloves.

 

The frown on Mal’s face deepened and Evie’s guilt grew ten sizes.

 

“Lonnie? Come on, she's sleeping,” Mal glanced at Lonnie, trying to make a point, a very obvious one.

 

Evie stepped back but Mal grabbed her hand.

 

“… You don’t want to sit with me?” Mal’s voice came quiet and hurt.

 

Evie looked between Mal and Lonnie, feeling awful about refusing to sit with Mal.

 

It’s for the best’, Evie thought.

 

“I just don't want her to go swallowing her tongue or anything. And she’s my best friend.” Evie replied instead, finding her way out of Mal’s grasp and sliding into the seat next to Lonnie.

 

Mal watched the scene unfold with a ridiculously big pout.

 

“… Is this seat taken?”

 

Mal looked over her shoulder to find Ben in a big blue winter coat and a blue beanie covering most of his hair and forehead, almost touching his eyes. He gave her the weirdest of smiles.

 

“Uh...” Was all Mal could answer before sliding back into her seat, completely defeated, turning her head to the window.

 

That alone was enough of an answer for Ben, who swiftly sat on the seat next to Mal.

 

Evie felt like crying.

 

“This was a mistake.” She sighted.

 

“Tell me about it. I can't believe I let you convince me to go on a trip that requires getting up before seven in the morning?” Lonnie all but slurred, shifting in her seat, so she could rest her head on Evie’s shoulder.

 

“I’m pretty sure you made that decision yourself. I was counting on you not coming, remember, silly?” Evie managed a weak chuckle.

 

“I remember. And you’re already making me regret it. Why aren’t you sitting with Mal?” Lonnie asked, her voice muffled by all the winter clothing.

 

“Because I’m sitting with my best friend. Duh.” Evie countered.

 

“Yeah, right. You’re impossibly stubborn but I don’t have the energy to lecture you right now.” Lonnie mumbled, cuddling into Evie’s shoulder, falling asleep instantly.

 

Evie sighted. This was going to be a long trip.

 

 

//

 

 

Lonnie was very awake by the time they arrived at the ski lodge. They walked alongside the rest of the students, talking cheerfully until they stepped inside the lodge.

 

Harry was talking, surrounded by a bunch of students, Mal included. Evie and Lonnie got closer.

 

“…Ay, so, they said, ‘Harry, make sure everyone sleeps in their assigned rooms’. And I said, ‘Overruled’, sleep where ye want, wankers!" Harry howled, throwing the key cards up in the air and receiving applause and laughter from everyone as they scattered on the floor.

 

Evie watched as Mal laughed along with Harry, Jay, Uma and Carlos.

 

The students were to quick to drop on the floor to catch the card keys.

 

“Are we going to be fine with him chaperoning?” Evie wondered.

 

Lonnie shrugged. Evie is about to speak again, when she’s interrupted by Ben’s voice, the boy speaking up from the balcony on top of the stairs.

 

“… See you on Black Diamond, Mal?”

 

Mal, who was currently chatting with Uma, looks up at the sound of her name and Evie can’t decipher her expression.

 

“The last one down the slope owes the other a hot toddy.” Ben challenged with an impish grin.

 

Mal opens her mouth to speak but her eyes spot Evie and she soon hangs her head, shoves her hands inside her pockets and resumes her conversation with Uma, a little awkwardly.

 

“Hey,” Lonnie snapped her fingers to get Evie to look at her. “What on earth are you doing? Go get your girl!”

 

“Are you kidding?” Evie scoffs. “I can't go down the Black Diamond. I don't even know how to put on the boots. Which are, in all honesty, ugly and impractical. Who designed that nonsense, anyway?”

 

Lonnie had to stiff a laugh at Evie’s observation.

 

“Well, if you're not going to go skiing, what are you planning on doing all weekend?”

 

Evie took her bag from her shoulder and winked at Lonnie. “I came prepared.” Then she opened the zip, showing off all of Evie’s favorite books, resting peacefully inside.

 

“Oh, no,” Lonnie groaned. “Dude, that is a major backslide for you.” Lonnie then spotted Jane nearby and waved.

 

“Hey, Jane!”

 

Jane looked up and smiled, walking towards them. Once she was close enough, Lonnie threw an arm around her shoulders.

 

“What's up, girls?” Jane asked.

 

“Can you help me convince Eves to come ski with us?” Lonnie replied, looking for support.

 

Jane had to laugh.

 

“Yeah, right,” She snorted. “You think I'm going skiing? It's cold outside, I don't do cold.” Jane was quick to destroy Lonnie’s expectations.

 

“… What?” Lonnie glared at Jane.

 

“Well, I have beauty face masks.” Evie said, shooting the tiniest smirks at Jane who swiftly moved from Lonnie’s side to Evie’s.

 

“Really, you too?” Lonnie groaned with a frown.

 

Jane only shrugged.

 

 

//

 

 

“…So, you guys have been faking it this entire time?” Jane asked, while taking off her mask from her face, trying to keep up.

 

“Yes, and you have to promise not to tell anyone, ok?” Evie sighted. “It's just... I'm so confused. I just had to let it out.” Another sight. Evie felt so lost at the moment. She was hoping Jane wouldn’t see her as a disappointment. She groaned.

 

“Look, I do not care about the genesis of it all. I just know homegirl likes you. I can tell by the way she looks at you.” Jane said, after wiping her face with a towel.

 

“Right,” Evie scoffed. “How does she look at me?”

 

“Like you're a sexy little Rubik's Cube,” Jane replied with a playful chuckle. The observation made Evie giggle, genuinely. “She can't figure you out, but she's having a lot of fun trying.” Jane added with an amused smile.

 

Evie now had the image of a pouting, really focused Mal trying to solve a Rubik Cube with Evie’s face on it and had to stiff her giggles.

 

Too bad the truth wasn’t so amusing.

 

“It doesn't matter, she's still so obsessed with Ben, and I'm just another stupid teenager who fell for Mal Bertha. It's embarrassing!” Evie whined.

 

She really felt like a fool. Jane turned to her.

 

“Look, everyone, you know, gets a bit obsessed with their first... you know... first love, I guess? But, bear with me: Let's look at the facts, shall we?”

 

Evie nodded and waited for Jane to continue.

 

“So, the whole fake relationship was her idea. You came up with a no-kissing rule. You're the one trying to break up with her, and you're also the one who is here, carb-loading with me while she's probably waiting for you in the hot tub.”

 

Evie looked dumbly at Jane trying to sort out the mess inside her brain. Jane wasn’t done talking, though.

 

“So, I'd say if anyone stupidly fell for someone who doesn't like them back, it's not you.”

 

Evie blinked several times.

 

It's Mal.” Jane whispered dramatically.

 

There was a moment of silence. Evie had to do something.

 

“You think she's waiting for me in the hot tub?”

 

Jane gave Evie a stern look.

 

“Duh. Hell yeah!”

 

Her tone wasn’t accusatory or judging. Just helpful. Evie felt really grateful for Jane in that very moment.

 

Evie took a moment to process Jane’s words. Could it be?

 

 

//

 

 

Evie definitely wasn’t used to this. She wasn’t even sure of where the hot tub was, or if Mal was still there. Evie was hoping she was. If not in the hot tub, somewhere else where they could talk.

 

She didn’t even bother to change, she left the room she shared with Jane and Lonnie (who was god knows where, Evie couldn’t possibly tell you) in her nightgown and borrowed one of Lonnie’s many jackets simply because they were warmer.

 

Luckily for her, the only person she found in her way was Harry, sitting on a couch, going through ‘chaperone’ stuff with two teachers. He saw her and was quick to excuse himself.

 

“What are ye doing here, lass?” Harry asked gently. Evie almost didn’t recognize the boy.

 

Evie had a million thought in her head and because of it, it took her a second there to say something.

 

“I, uh… I was looking for Mal.” Evie managed to say.

 

Harry gave her a smile and pointed to a hall on their left.

 

“Ay, of course. See that hall over there? It will take ye to the back of the lodge. That’s where the hot tub is.”

 

The fact that Harry just knew that Mal would be there, gave Evie hope.

 

“Got it. Thank you, Harry.” Evie smiled.

 

Harry then lowered his voice.

 

“Just lay low, ok? So, ye won’t get caught. I won’t tell, but any other chaperone might.”

 

Evie was listening to him, but the realization of what talking to Mal could represent for them, for her, started to sink in.

 

Evie couldn’t help it. She pulled the boy for a hug.

 

“Whatever happened between ye guys, it’s going to be ok. Yer going to be fine. I promise.” Harry said in her ear, hugging Evie back. How he just knew she needed it? Beats her.

 

“Thank you, Harry.”

 

“Yer welcome, Grevie.” Harry grinned, a big boyish grin.

 

‘And he’s back.’

 

Evie giggled and ventured through the hall. She stepped outside in the rather chilly night, hearing nothing but the mix of the crisp sound of the leaves and the bubbling of the hot tub’s jets.

 

If Evie wasn’t so scared, she’d find the sight very mesmerizing.

 

The hot tub was placed on a wood platform in a silent corner, where people could lay low without being disturbed. With its light’s on, Evie spotted Mal laying lazily inside, illuminated by the pretty blue neon lights that came from the tub. The way the lights reflected on Mal’s dark purple hair and on her skin almost made Evie gasp.

 

So, maybe she could still find the sight mesmerizing.

 

What a beautiful girl.

 

Evie approached the tub, quietly. Mal was distractedly playing with the water, her head down. Evie mentally prepared herself as she reached the edge of the tub and then spoke, softly.

 

“All by yourself out here?”

 

Mal was a bit startled as Evie burst the silent bubble that she was in. She raised her head and nodded without as much a glance to Evie. Mal was actually pouting like a little child.

 

“So, what, now you're ignoring me?” Evie tried again, trying to sound light and somewhat casual.

 

That earned a scoff from Mal.

 

“Oh, I'm the one ignoring you? That's funny.” She replied with an unamused little smile. Evie knew she was being sarcastic. She heard the hurt in her voice. The same hurt she heard on Mal back on the bus.

 

Evie realized just how badly she sucked at these things. Mal’s feelings were clearly hurt and if Jane was right, it only made Evie regret it more. She walked around the tub, up the tiny stairs and sat on the very edge of it.

 

Mal watched her movements, watched as Evie hugged her knees, close to her chest.

 

The silence that fell upon them was unbearable. So heavy that Evie just had to say something.

 

“Sorry, I'm not a good skier, you didn't even offer to teach me.” She knew it was such an idiotic thing to say. But she was so confused, so lost and she was still too afraid to jump in any other type of conversation.

 

Mal gave her an incredulous look.

 

“Oh, and I'm supposed to be sweet to you after you just don't sit with me on the bus ride here?” Her voice came out bitter.

 

“Shouldn't you be thanking me, that you got to sit next to who you actually wanted?” Evie countered quietly.

 

Wasn’t that the point of this whole damn thing?

 

“Why do you think I wanted to sit next to Ben? When was the last time you heard me talk about him?” Mal replied, staring intensely into Evie’s eyes, a frown still on her face.

 

Evie suddenly remembered Jane’s words. Did Mal have real feelings for Evie? Was that even a possibility? Was that what Mal was trying to tell her?

 

“I, uh... I don’t know? I thought that was what you wanted?” Evie dumbly replied anyway.

 

Mal rolled her eyes, amused.

 

“For someone who has such good grades, you can be so dense sometimes.” Mal chuckled lightly.

 

What?

 

Mal rested her arms on the edges of the hot tub.

 

“Yeah. I wanted to sit next to you, E,” Mal confessed so softly, yet so intensely. “I even packed the snacks.”

 

Evie didn’t know what to say.

 

“I even asked Dizzy where to find those… yogurt drinks you like so much.” Mal explained further, gesturing a lot with her hands, trying her best to get her point across.

 

“That store is all the way across town.” Evie breathed out, incredulous.

 

This can’t be.’

 

“I know.” Mal replied.

 

‘Or can it?’

 

“So, if I went all the way across town to get you something that you like, that means...” Mal trailed off, hoping Evie would fill in the blank.

 

Evie was having a hard time believing that this could be happening to her. She had already realized that Jane had been right all along and that maybe Evie herself had already realized it too. She was just too afraid to believe it. Or to give in to it.

 

“… You must really like yogurt?” Evie tried, shrugging and scrunching her nose, refusing to say it, just yet.

 

Mal gives Evie the most amused little chuckle as she splashes the water with her hand.

 

You are impossible.”

 

Evie didn’t need anymore confirmation. Her heart tugged against her chest as she, slowly, shifted, dipping her feet into the hot water of the tub.

 

This was really happening. Mal liked her. Mal liked her back. It wasn’t fake.

 

Evie felt there was something more important to say than that, though. So, she said it, barely over a tiny whisper, afraid to screw things up on such a vulnerable moment for both of them.

 

“I’m sorry I didn't sit next to you.”

 

Mal shook her head and gave Evie a tiny smile.

 

“It's alright.”

 

“No, it’s not. I really hurt your feelings, didn’t I?” Evie also shook her head, the guilt burning up her insides.

 

Mal just looked at her. Somehow, Mal knew Evie wasn’t done and granted her with silence.

 

“And not just on the bus. Back at the Corner Cafe too, after Harry’s party. Right? When I said that I wasn’t afraid to be with you because we were just pretending. You left because you... uh…you know…”

 

Mal chose to give Evie a simple, yet meaningful smile, confirming Evie’s words.

 

Things were crystal clear to Evie now. Mal had been hurt because she already had real feelings for Evie and she had completely dismissed them. Because she had been so oblivious to all the damn signs until this very moment.

 

How could have Evie been so stupid? She had been so obsessed with contracts, rules and other people that she had failed to see what was right in front of her. She sunk so deep into her own fears that she failed to realize that in order to have love, one had to trust. Even when it was scary.

 

It hadn’t been Mal who was obsessed with Ben, it had been Evie all along.

 

The realization gave Evie the much-needed courage. It was time for her to let go and loosen up. It was time to give in to the feelings she nurtured for Mal. So, she took off Lonnie’s jacket, throwing it on the grass and swiftly stepped inside the hot tub.

 

“Whoa, ok. You're coming in. In your nightgown.” Mal nervously chuckled.

 

“I didn't bring a bathing suit.” Evie explained, as she walked closer to Mal. Her nightgown was soaking wet and so were the tips of her blue hair.

 

Of course, you didn’t.” Mal teased, her smile a little bigger now.

 

Evie reached Mal and they were impossibly close.

 

“I’m so sorry I hurt your feelings like that. I never meant to hurt you. And… I’m sorry it took me this long to figure it out.” Evie whispered.

 

Mal beamed at her, genuinely.

 

“Apology accepted.”

 

Mal then grabbed Evie’s waist and pulled her close enough for their bodies to touch. They could feel each other’s breathing, their lips an inch close to touching.

 

Evie threw her arms around Mal’s bare shoulders, her hands gently caressing the back of Mal’s neck.

 

Mal smiled, her dimple smile. Evie felt like her heart was about to burst into a pile of rainbow mush.

 

There's no one like you, Blueberry.”

 

Evie felt the swarm of butterflies in her stomach but didn’t have much time to think about it, as her lips finally connected with Mal’s. What started nice and easy, progressed to a more craving and rawer kiss.

 

Evie didn’t know what a real kiss felt like. The other kisses she had shared with Mal had a shallow purpose.

 

This one, however, was real. It was because their feelings were reciprocated.

 

This one was sweet and intense. Soft and hungry. Strong and vulnerable. All at once. Also, those were words that any of Evie’s favorite authors would’ve used to describe love.

 

Mal’s lips tasted like strawberries and Evie could’ve sworn she smelled lavender.

 

Evie never knew love could feel this good. She didn’t know just how much she was starving until she had experienced that very real kiss.

 

This moment was the most vulnerable she had ever been yet she had never felt stronger. It was…amazing.

 

They parted ways, so they could breathe but Mal made sure their foreheads were touching.

 

“That was…” Evie trailed off, her cheeks burning.

 

I know.” Mal smirked, but her cheeks and the tip of her nose were also visibly red.

 

Love, eh?

 

 

//

 

Walking through the empty hall cozying up next to Mal made Evie feel so safe. They walked, hand in hand, giggling softly to each other.

 

As they reached the place where would have to go their separate ways, Mal pulled Evie closer to her and got on her tip toes to place a gentle and delicate kiss on Evie’s lips. Evie hummed happily and she truly felt like she was floating on a cloud of cotton candy.

 

After their lips parted ways, they just kind of stared at each other for a bit, mesmerized and lost in each other’s eyes.

 

“Good night, E.” Mal whispered.

 

Evie giggled stupidly.

 

“Good night, M.”

 

With that Evie watched Mal leave and after she was out of sight, Evie quietly stepped inside her room, threw herself into her bed and sighted. A blissful and hopeful sight.

 

This was really happening. And it surely wasn’t fake this time.

 

 

//

 

When Evie walked inside the bus for the trip back, she felt butterflies in her stomach as she spotted Mal, already seated and waiting for her with a stupid smile on her face.

 

Evie was quick to join her, sliding into the seat next to her. Evie gave Mal a smile just as stupid.

 

Ben walked inside the bus and his face twitched when he saw the two girls sitting side by side. He sank into the seat next to Chad and held his head high, not bothering to look back again.

 

“Will he ever stop?” Evie wondered.

 

“Who cares?” Mal chuckled. “Hey, I'm tired. Can I use you as a pillow?”

 

Evie giggled and nodded, smiling softly at the girl. Mal then cuddled into Evie’s shoulder and soon enough was peacefully asleep. Evie let her head rest on Mal’s and she didn’t know she could feel so happy.

 

 

//

 

 

And just like that, the weekend was over. Everyone was already off the bus and fighting their way into their bags. Evie finally managed to get a grip on her bag and then started to walk away from the crowd, waiting for Mal.

 

“Hey, Evie. I think it's so very nice that you came out on the Ski Trip. I surely hope you had fun.”

 

Evie found her path blocked by Ben, with a smile on his lips. Evie would find it charming if that smile wasn’t fake as hell.

 

“Gee... Thank you, Ben. I did.” Evie replied with her best fake enthusiasm, crossing her arms, wondering what the hell could the boy possibly want now.

 

“Also, I just wanted to say I think it's really big of you, being so understanding about my friendship with Mal.” Ben then said.

 

Evie felt her blood run cold.

 

What?

 

“Oh, I just mean... a lot of people would be pretty weirded out by their significant other sleeping in someone else's room, but you're so trusting... I remember that about you from middle school.” He explained with a little shrug, faking causality.

 

Ben was messing with her. That was the only explanation. Evie tried to remain calm. Everything was fine.

 

Then she watched as Ben took off his jacket.

 

“Don’t you get kind of hot after spending three hours on a bus full of people?” He asked.

 

She would be somewhat amazed that the only thing he had under it was a yellow t-shirt if she didn’t spot something all too familiar on his wrist. Evie sucked in a breath.

 

“Where did you get that?” Evie weakly asked.

 

Ben faked surprise upon hearing Evie’s question. It was insane. Anyone who didn’t know him would fall for his charms but he was looking more and more like his father.

 

“Oh, this? Mal completely forgot this in Harry’s bathroom, during that party you went to? She never bothered to ask for it back.”

 

Evie’s hands closed into fists. Ben was definitely messing with her, on purpose, but that didn’t erase the fact Mal had broken her promise. Just when things were starting to make a little sense. Evie felt her eyes burning.

 

“I wouldn’t wear it, but I love the colors in it.” Ben pushed his luck just a little further.

 

When Evie only granted him with silence, he seemed satisfied.

 

“Well, have a nice day.” He waved her goodbye, grabbed his bag and went on his way to join Chad.

 

Mal chose that very moment to show up, a lazy smile on her lips and her bag resting on her shoulder. She threw an arm around Evie’s shoulders.

 

“E? Ready to go?” Mal softly greeted.

 

Evie wasn’t having it, though. She found a way, a rather aggressive one, out of Mal’s embrace. Mal just froze there, in surprise.

 

“What’s with you—"

 

“Did you go to Ben's room last night?” Evie cut her off.

 

Mal took way too long to answer that question, which made Evie’s heart sink even deeper into her chest.

 

“Uh, yeah, but...” Mal trailed off, scratching the back of her neck.

 

“And you lost my favorite scrunchie? Left it there for him to find? How could you? How could you break your promise?” Evie continued, raising her voice.

 

“Your scrunchie? What…” Mal trailed off again, realization coating her features soon enough.

 

Mal opened her mouth to protest but Evie interrupted whatever it was that she was going to say.

 

“Am I just a joke to you, Mal?” Evie asked, feeling so very betrayed. She felt sick to her stomach.

 

Mal shook her head furiously.

 

“No, fuck, E, of course, you're not. You just don't understand the situation—"

 

“No, I understand completely,” Evie was about to burst into tears but she needed to keep it together for a little longer. “This is over, in every possible way.” She announced, pointing to both of them.

 

Mal frowned and her eyes widened. She grabbed Evie’s arm.

 

“Can we just talk about this? Let me drive you home, I'll explain.” Mal quietly requested. Pleaded, actually.

 

But Evie couldn’t. Evie was way too heartbroken and way too hurt to want anything to do with Mal right now.

 

“I would rather walk home,” Evie replied, jerking away from Mal. “Actually, I'd rather drive myself than to get into a car with you right now.”

 

And with this Evie turned her back on Mal who was left with the most distressed expression on her face.

 

After a few steps Evie was already letting her tears roll down her face and a sob escaped her lips.

 

Evie felt stupid, betrayed, defeated.

 

What else could go wrong in her life?

Chapter Text

Evie was standing in front of her own house door, wiping the tears from her eyes and face. The last thing she wanted was for her dad and her sister to ask questions about why she was crying after a trip that was supposed to be fun and she really didn’t want to talk about Mal. Or about how embarrassed she felt about quietly crying all the way back home.

 

After a deep breath and after making sure her face was presentable, Evie opened the door, distracted by her own thoughts. She hung her jacket and threw her bag on the floor, almost in a robotic kind of way until she came to a stop. Her bleak thoughts were pushed all the way down to make room for the wave of wonder and warmth that spread all over her body as she looked at all the shiny and beautiful Christmas decorations that now filled her house.

 

“You're home!”

 

Evie was so mesmerized that she was a bit startled when she heard Dizzy’s voice. Dizzy ran over to her and gave Evie a really tight hug and perhaps she wanted to burst into tears right there from just how much she needed it. Instead, she hugged her little sister back, just as tightly.

 

“Did you do this all yourself?” Evie asked pointing to the decorations, a curious eyebrow raised.

 

“Well...” Dizzy trailed off, wearing a tiny smirk. Evie furrowed her brows for a second but before she could question it, she heard an unexpected third voice.

 

“…Hey, little sister,”

 

Evie turned around to see Snow walking down the stairs with a proud smile on her face and Evie’s eyes immediately filled with tears of joy.

 

“Oh, my God!” Evie practically yelled and threw herself into her older sister’s arms, feeling a wave of pure happiness. Dizzy joined the hug with a big smile on her face.

 

“I missed you so much!” Evie quietly said as Snow hugged her tight. And she wasn’t lying. She had missed Snow so intensely and seeing how she was exactly the same gave Evie a sense of comfort. She missed it being the three of them against the world. Now, she truly felt at home.

 

“I missed you too,” Snow chuckled, content that her surprise was a success.

 

After the day she had, having Snow back home was the best thing that could’ve happened.

 

 

//

 

 

Later that day, Evie found herself sitting down and staring at her sisters while they made cookies. The sight brought her so much peace. The smile she held while watching them was genuine and that was so refreshing.

 

“…Tell us about Scotland,” Dizzy excitedly asked as she passed the cookie dough on to her sister’s hands.

 

“Ok,” Snow chuckled. “Well, even when it's freezing, Scottish girls still wear short shorts and high heels, when we go out to bars and stuff.” Snow replied with an easy smile.

 

That made Dizzy gasp. “You go to bars?” She slowly asked. Evie laughed under her breath at the exchange.

 

“Everybody does,” Snow’s smile didn’t waver, but her tone was a little defensive. “The legal drinking age is eighteen over there, you know?”

 

“You drink?” Dizzy dramatically asked, faking shock. Then she turned to Evie. “Who is she?”

 

Evie only snorted at that and watched as Snow’s smile grew impossibly big.

 

“Are you going to invite Audrey over for dinner?” Dizzy then asked, tentatively and expectantly with a hint of curiousness. Snow shared a look with Evie.

 

“Why don't we make it a family night?” Snow replied instead.

 

“Just family?” Dizzy repeated and Snow nodded.

 

“Well, guess that means you can't invite Mal.” Dizzy turned to Evie and she felt her blood run cold. She tried to silently tell Dizzy to shut up since Snow wasn’t aware of anything Mal related and that was the last thing Evie wanted to talk about. Technically Snow had no idea of how Evie’s life changed during her time away. However, Dizzy had already spoken.

 

“Mal?” Snow inquired curiously, a lazy smile on her face.

 

Dizzy just shrugged and looked at Evie. Snow was about to ask something when a loud knock on the door was heard.

 

“I'd better go get that,” Evie said, quickly getting up. She was totally using this as an excuse to not answer any Mal related questions. “Excuse me.”

 

As she got up and walked towards the front door, she could still feel Snow’s interested look on her. Evie opened the door and her heart skipped a beat as she found Mal on the other side with a guilty yet serious look on her face and her hands shoved on the pockets of her jeans. Maybe Evie wanted nothing to do with Mal anymore, but the girl managed to look prettier by the second and it was infuriating. Before Evie could ask any questions, Mal spoke up.

 

“Hey. We need to talk.”

 

Evie glanced quickly over her shoulder, then her eyes were back on Mal.

 

“Not here.”

 

Evie stepped outside and closed the door behind her, making sure none of her sisters could hear anything. Mal followed Evie to the front porch and as soon as the blue haired girl came to a stop, she spoke up again, unable to contain herself.

 

“Just so you know, nothing happened between me and Ben last night,”

 

Perhaps Evie wanted to smack Mal. She couldn’t be serious.

 

“No, what happened was that you went to his room in the first place.”

 

Mal stopped for a second, sighting. Her voice became quiet when she spoke next.

 

“Look, Ben and I dated for a long time, ok? Those feelings aren't just going to go away, I mean, we have history.” Mal was begging for Evie to understand her side.

 

But Evie wasn’t having it. First Mal goes on about how she hadn’t talked about Ben for a long time and now she was seriously standing on Evie’s porch preaching about how she had history with Ben. Evie should’ve known Mal’s priority was never her.

 

“I'm tired of being second best or fake best, I don't even know anymore—"

 

“No, no, no, you do not get it,” Mal interrupted, taking a step forward, her very green eyes begging for Evie to please listen. “… Ok? Last night was—”

 

“Last night was a mistake,” Evie cut her off. Mal stopped talking and looked down, a frown on her face.

 

“Physical stuff might not be a big deal to you, but to me, it is,” Evie continued and her voice cracked just the tiniest bit.

 

Who says it's not a big deal to me?” Mal protested defensively with the most incredulous look on her face.

 

“Says me and my broken heart!” Evie then snaps, a little louder than any of them anticipated. “I trusted you with my favorite scrunchie only to find out Ben has it instead. I trusted you with my heart and you go around and break it by going to Ben’s room right after…” Evie has to stop herself because she was an emotion away from crying and Mal’s hurt expression wasn’t helping.

 

“Okay. Look, I...” Mal tried again but trailed off, sounding and looking completely lost.

 

“Mal, just leave.” Evie didn’t let her finish. She just wanted this to be over. She was beyond tired. There was nothing to discuss anymore.

 

“Can we go inside and talk? Please?” Mal asked, her tone desperate and barely over a whisper. Evie took a stubborn step back, shaking her head.

 

“… She asked you to leave, girl.”

 

Evie froze. Audrey stepped from behind her, with her huge pink jacket on and placed herself next to Evie, protectively. No, no, no, this wasn’t happening.

 

“I'm fine Audrey, go back inside,” Evie said without looking the girl in the eye. This was the last thing Evie needed right now.

 

“No, it's alright,” Audrey replied, her expression hard as stone and her eyes fixated on Mal, who looked like she was solving a math problem. Evie then shared a look with the girl and she missed how Mal watched the tiny interaction.

 

“No, no, no. Are you serious right now?” Mal then snapped, her green eyes wide open and her hands raised in an overall incredulous stance.

 

Evie looked between Mal and Audrey, panic starting to grow inside her. She didn’t know what do anymore and Mal’s expression went from shocked to a sad frown in no time. Then, the purple haired girl gave Evie the coldest look and when she spoke up next, Evie heard how her voice matched her stone-cold expression.

 

“Wait, this isn't about Ben and me, at all, this is about you and Audrey! Are you kidding me!?” Mal voice was a full on crescendo, growing louder at every word and Evie only wanted to disappear, scared of what this could mean. But Mal didn’t care, not one bit.

 

“This is the reason you broke up with me? You're still in love with this prissy pink princess wanna-be?” The words rolled off Mal’s tongue like poison, louder than before. Evie tried to speak up, desperate to make Mal stop talking or else, Snow would definitely hear them but she never got the chance because Audrey then snapped.

 

“You’re talking out of your ass, Mal. If Evie broke up with you, maybe it's because she's coming to the life-altering revelation that she's too good for you!” Audrey took a confident step forward, determined to come in defense of her friend. Mal wasn’t at all afraid of Audrey and didn’t even blink at her provocation.

 

“Because you’re so perfect for her, right,” Mal spat back and then looked at a very panicked Evie and kept going with no mercy. “I can’t believe you’ve been in love with Audrey this whole time. Who’s breaking hearts now, huh?”

 

Evie wanted to talk back, but not a word came out. Mal was looking more hurt than ever and that wasn’t a good look on her, at all.

 

“…You're in love with Audrey?”

 

Just as Evie thought things couldn’t get any worse, they did as she looked over to find Snow and Dizzy standing by the front door, probably worried by the loud voices they definitely heard from the inside. Evie’s heart broke on the spot at the hurt in Snow’s eyes.

 

“Snow, no, it’s not like that...” Evie practically runs to her sister, forgetting about the two other girls, but Snow just shakes her head, turns away from the scene and slams the door behind her, right in Evie’s face. Dizzy is looking at her with concern. Evie rests her forehead on the door for a moment and she can’t keep the tears away anymore. They fall down her cheeks and the tiniest of sobs escapes her lips.

 

She turns around to see Mal and Audrey looking up at her with a mix of concern and shame, knowing they stepped over the line. She could see how their faces fell at the sight of Evie’s tears.

 

“Mal, go home!” Evie demanded, her tone harsh and hurt. Then she turned to Audrey. “You, too!”

 

And Mal wasn’t going to fight her on that, or on anything else anymore.

 

“God, E. You were never second best.” Mal then says, an exhausted and defeated rendition of what she had been there to say all along and with one last glance at Evie, who looked down, sniffling, Mal frowned and finally made her way to her jeep. She didn’t look back and she didn’t wait. As soon as she reached the vehicle, the engine was heard and Mal drove away.

 

Evie glanced at Audrey who, above all, looked extremely guilty. “Eves, I am so sorry... I don’t know what came over me. I—”

 

“It’s ok, none of this is your fault Audrey, it’s mine. But I don’t always need you to be a knight in shining armor. I can take care of myself. You should’ve listened.” Evie snapped quietly. She wasn’t really mad at Audrey for caring, but the fact that she didn’t listen to her was what hurt her heart. She isn’t some helpless little girl and she was sick and tired of everyone treating her as such.

 

Audrey nodded, ashamed and then she looked at the door.

 

“… I didn't know Snow was home yet,” Audrey then said, her voice careful and quiet, like she feared it wasn’t welcome anymore.

 

“Yeah, she finished her exams early. It was a surprise.” Evie explained, just as quiet as Audrey’s observation. Then she gave her a reassuring look, that she wasn’t mad. But she also wanted Audrey to just go home.

 

Audrey seemed to understand and, like Mal, with one last look, made her way back to her place.

 

“Guess I'll order a pizza.” Dizzy then said, trying to somehow lighten the mood. It didn’t work of course, but Evie gave her mental props for trying. She gave Evie another concerned look and stepped carefully inside, leaving her older sister alone for a bit. Evie exhaled, defeated and heartbroken.

 

This was all her fault.

 

If Snow hated her now, it was on her for not being honest about her feelings for Audrey while she still could and for not telling her that all of this mess was happening in the first place.

 

If Mal and Audrey were confused and upset right now was because Evie was stupid enough to drag them both to this mess over those stupid letters.

 

She had wanted Mal to be honest with her so badly, yet she wasn’t fully honest with her by not talking about Audrey with her.

 

She had wanted Audrey’s attention, yet she never actually did anything about it. Instead, all she did was write a letter that never got sent.

 

Evie felt like a fraud.

 

Those were the thoughts in her head as she laid in her bed, later that night. Evie had been fully ignoring everyone, despite her father and her little sister’s very well-intentioned efforts to get her to stop blankly staring at her book shelf. Eventually, the invites to hang out and do something stopped and she could hear Dizzy convincing their dad to play chess with her.

 

Evie didn’t want to play chess. Or to ever leave her room again.

 

She stared at her book shelf a bit more, more precisely to the books, her books. And she felt a sudden anger bubbling inside. So, she got up and grabbed one of the card boxes she said she wasn’t going to use and started aggressively throwing her books inside it. Those stupid books she kept reading about happily ever afters and perfect romances. Evie knew her books weren’t to blame for the situation she was in and she was most definitely not giving them away, but right now it was easy to place the blame on them. After she was done, she left the box somewhere hidden so she didn’t have to look at it and moved to her secretary, knowing that what she was looking for, was there. She found it after a swift glance. She grabbed the piece of paper and unfolded it. It was the handwritten contract of hers and Mal’s ‘fake relationship’. Evie completely ripped the piece of paper apart as a silent tear rolled down her face.

 

At least the worst is over.’

 

Or so Evie thought.

 

She then got a few texts from Lonnie. At first, she thought nothing of it. Lonnie was an expert at sending a bunch of texts in a row when she could easily write all of it in one. But the phone didn’t stop buzzing, so Evie unlocked it and opened her conversation with Lonnie. She found a bunch of texts in all caps and an attachment.

 

Evie’s blood ran cold as she opened the attachment and watched herself and Mal kissing on the hot tub. Someone had been watching them. Someone recorded the whole thing and posted it online. Evie literally threw the phone on the bed like it was scalding, not bothering to answer Lonnie’s texts and covered her eyes with her hands, feeling like she was punched in the stomach.

 

This was not happening. This was so not happening.

 

Evie suddenly felt so hopeless, not knowing what to do. How did she even let this happen? So, she carefully grabbed her phone and dragged her feet to the room of the only person who she knew could help her.

 

Snow’s door was ajar and Evie could see her inside folding her clothes with sort of a frown on her face. Evie knocked softly and waited. Snow lifted her eyes for only a second before turning back to the clothes.

 

“I'm busy,” Snow’s tone was hard while she kept folding her clothes. Of course, she was still upset and Evie couldn’t blame her.

 

“Wait, Snow, please. I need your help,” Evie pleaded. She wouldn’t even bother her sister if it wasn’t urgent and her desperation made Snow look back with a mix of hurt and concern. She dropped the shirt she had in her hand and followed Evie to her room. Evie showed her the video and Lonnie’s messages. After a moment, Snow looked from Evie’s phone to her sister.

 

“Well... You're completely covered up and we only see your back. If you hadn't been tagged, it could be anybody. Things are looking a little bad for Mal, though,” Snow said. “Do you have any idea of who might’ve done this?”

 

“No,” Evie dully replied. “God, how did I let this happen? I'm so stupid,” Evie sadly whined throwing herself on the bed, hugging one of her favorite pillows.

 

“Hey... Eves. We're going to fix this. Give me the pillow,” Snow, unable to hide her concern for her sister, got up and tried to take the pillow from Evie, who offered resistance. With a pull, Snow was able to take it away from Evie. “Come on,” Snow insisted, sitting on the edge of the bed and grabbing Evie’s arms, encouraging her to sit. Evie numbly let it happen.

 

“I know you're only being nice to me because I accidentally made a sex tape and you feel bad,” Evie quietly said with a frown.

 

“I do feel bad for you. But I also just don't understand why you didn't tell me all this was happening in the first place,” Snow replied, hurt coating her pretty eyes.

 

“… Because I thought you were going to hate me,” Evie sighted. “And I guess I didn’t want you to think I couldn’t handle myself while you were gone…” Evie confessed the one thing she had inside her head since the day Snow left.

 

“I could never hate you, Evie,” Snow protested, a little offended. Then she stared right into Evie’s eyes with a somewhat stern look. “Eves, it’s ok not to have it all together, you know? I’m never going to think less of you for asking for help whenever you need it.” She scolded and Evie just hung her head, taking in those words.

 

“But when I heard what Mal said, I thought…I thought you were trying to date Audrey now or something,” Snow then added and the hurt came back.

 

“How could you ever think I would ever do that to you? You're my sister!” It was Evie’s time to sound a little offended. She would never do that. Period.

 

“You wouldn't even Skype with me, what am I supposed to think?” Snow protested quietly and Evie couldn’t bear the sight of her older sister’s eyes welling up in tears. There it was. Evie should’ve known better. She was trying so hard to handle things herself, she totally missed on how her actions would be received by her sister. Of course Snow thought Evie was hiding something, Evie avoided talking to her at all costs. Evie mentally kicked herself for being that stupid. But now she needed Snow to know the truth.

 

“I wouldn't Skype with you because I was lying to every single person in my life, and I knew I couldn't lie to you,” Evie confessed, feeling the tears coming back to her already tired eyes and watched as Snow finally fully dropped the defensive act and looked at her with the care and love Evie was used to see on her.

 

“I just thought you didn't need me anymore,” Snow confessed.

 

Evie let out a humorless watery laugh and looked at her sister with an incredulous look on her face.

 

“Are you kidding me? Look what happened when you were gone! I made a sex tape, and I haven't even had sex!”

 

“Come here,” Snow gave a watery smile of her own and opened her arms. Evie didn’t hesitate and threw herself into her sister’s arms, blinking away her tears. As she opened her eyes, seeing more clearly, she raised an eyebrow.

 

“How long have you been there?”

 

Snow lets go of the embrace and turns around to where Evie is looking, both finding their youngest sister by the door.

 

“Not long...” Dizzy replied quietly but a sheepish look comes across her features. “Long,”

 

Snow gestured for her to come in and join them for a group hug. The three girls smiled, more to themselves than to each other.

 

“Okay, let's make a pact. No more secrets between the Grimhilde girls,” Snow then said with an encouraging smile. Evie silently nodded in agreement and Snow carefully placed a lock of her blue hair behind her ear. Evie felt a huge weight coming out of her shoulders, her chest, her everything. Having Snow back on her side was a wonderful thing in the sea of disaster she was currently swimming in.

 

“But... I have a secret, too,”

 

Evie and Snow turned their heads to Dizzy who quietly had confessed to also having a secret. She looked incredibly guilty, so they waited in silent understanding for her to spill it out. Evie was ready to not be mad at whatever Dizzy was about to say. It couldn’t be that bad, right?

 

Dizzy took a deep breath and avoided Evie’s eyes as she did so.

 

I sent the letters.

 

For a brief moment, nothing happened and silence reigned in the room. And then:

 

I'm going to kill you.” Evie announced, glaring at Dizzy and the youngest sister knew it was time to run.

 

Everything that happened next was a mess. Evie threw herself at Dizzy, Snow tried to stop her, all of them were screaming at each other and running around the room. Dizzy was quick and was able to avoid Evie while Snow kept yelling ‘No, Evie! No!’, trying to make her stop, unsuccessful.

 

“She's a kid!” Snow tried again but Evie wasn’t listening.

 

“You were so lonely and I could tell Mal liked you and I knew you wouldn't do anything about it,” Dizzy shrieked while hiding behind the bed, trying to explain herself.

 

“So, you sent all five?” Evie scoffed while trying to take Snow out of the way.

 

“I thought five chances at a girlfriend was better odds! I miss having her over for dinner!” Dizzy screamed, being successful in reaching the closet door and closing it behind her just in time for Snow to put herself between the door and a very angry Evie.

 

“Alright! That’s enough! Give me the unicorn,” Snow firmly said even though she was slightly out of breath. Evie pouted but gave her the unicorn, or to better explain it, she let Snow take the unicorn away from her. “Look, her logic was off, but her heart was in the right place—"

 

“Her face is going to be in the wrong place!” Evie protested, trying to pass through Snow. Snow pushed her back again.

 

“Evie, before you murder our sister, could I just ask you a question?”

 

Evie pouted and crossed her arms, but didn’t say anything.

 

“If you truly didn't want those letters to be sent, why did you address them?” Snow then asked. Evie couldn’t really argue with that, but was she going to admit it? Hell no.

 

“It's not like I added a stamp,” Evie mumbled and Snow let out a sight.

 

“Can you admit that some part of you doesn't want everything in your life to be a fantasy?” Snow asked, and her tone wasn’t harsh but it was also meant to make a point.

 

“Maybe...”

 

“So... If I can forgive you for writing my girlfriend a love letter, do you think you could forgive Dizzy for sending them?” As Snow made her final question, she heard the door open just a bit and Dizzy poked her head out, as she wasn’t sure if it was safe for her yet. Evie looked between her two sisters. The harm was already done so Evie guessed that holding a grudge would in fact be a waste of time.

 

You owe me braid crowns for the rest of your life.” Evie huffed, glaring at Dizzy.

 

Snow and Dizzy let out relieved sights and Dizzy opened the closet door a little more.

 

Thank God. I was really hoping to make it to seventh grade.”

 

 

//

 

 

Evie didn't feel Christmassy at all, knowing her hot tub escapades had gone viral, but, of course, Snow knew exactly what to do and anonymously emailed Instagram to have them take the videos down under child pornography laws since both Evie and Mal were minors. Evie couldn't quite believe she had inadvertently dabbled in porn before she lost her virginity, but it had been a strange year all around.

 

Snow knocked on Evie’s door the morning after Christmas with Dizzy right behind her and they both sat on the bed, next to their sister.

 

“Okay, you're officially PG-13 again,” Snow happily announced, showing Evie her phone. Evie slowly picked her phone and looked at the picture of Mal and herself on the background.

 

“I guess I should change my background,” Evie sighted, frowning.

 

“You could, or you could talk to her.” Snow countered with a shrug.

 

Evie kept staring at the picture, taking in her sister’s words.

 

 

//

 

 

New Year's Eve came faster than Evie anticipated. She figured it was a time for resolutions. Her life was a mess, but... She could clean her room. So, that’s exactly what she did. She cleaned, folded and swept, distracted by the music blasting through her headphones, only stopping to look at her Harry Styles album. At least Harry Styles never disappointed her.

 

She was so distracted by her thoughts, she didn’t even see how her sisters and her dad were quietly watching her.

 

“Yep, she's cleaning...”

 

“It must be really bad,” Dizzy replied, looking up at her dad after his observation. Mr. Grimhilde shared a look with his daughters and made a decision.

 

“Can you guys hang out for a while?” He asked.

 

“Yeah, of course.” Snow knowingly said. Then she softly held Dizzy’s hand and left for Snow’s room closing the door behind them. He gave them one final look before knocking on Evie’s door and peeking inside.

 

“Hey,” He called. Evie looked up to see her dad and took off her headphones. “Let's go for a drive.” Evie knew that tone. He wasn’t really asking, so she dropped the headphones, grabbed her coat and followed her dad.

 

 

//

 

 

Evie’s mood didn’t exactly improve when she found herself at the Corner Cafe and she wondered why would her dad think it was a good idea to drive there as they sat on a table.

 

“There it is, right there,” Evie’s dad said as he pushed a button on the little jukebox that was on the table and a pleasant melody softly filled their surroundings. Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears was the song playing. “Your mother and I used to come here all the time when we were dating,” He added with a bit of a nostalgic smile on his face, swaying a bit to the rhythm of the song.

 

“Really? I didn't know that,” Evie’s face suddenly lit up at the mention of her mother. Her dad never actually spoke much about her, so anything at all would instantly put a smile on her face. He seemed to pick up on that.

 

“She'd play this song, then as soon as it was over, she'd play it again,” He kept on telling the story and seeing the glint on Evie’s eyes was all he needed to continue. And also, because he kind of had a point to make. “You know what else she'd do? Get up and start dancing in the aisles, right by everyone eating,” He pointed vaguely to the table behind her, which made Evie look back with a smile. She wondered what would’ve been like, to see her mother, happily dancing without a care in the world.

 

“I was so embarrassed, but... you know, I was also in awe of her, too,” Her dad pulled her back from her thoughts and fished out his wallet. “I think back and I think, "Man, I should've been dancing with her," And out of the wallet he took out a picture and handed it to Evie.

 

“Look at this,”

 

Evie picked it up curiously and saw her mother, caught in a moment of pure bliss, dancing in front of the very same table they were sitting in right now. Evie’s smile grew bigger. “Wow, this place has not changed at all,” She chuckled.

 

“There's so much about her I should have told you girls, but I haven't because talking about her makes me sad,” Mr. Grimhilde confessed with a frown.

 

“It's ok,” Evie reassured him.

 

He shook his head. “It's not ok. I've relied on you and Snow too much, I know I have. You're sixteen. You don't have to be an adult yet,” Evie nodded with a little smile.

 

“That's why I was so happy when I saw you and Mal—"

 

“I don't want to talk about Mal right now,” Evie interrupted with a frown.

 

“Mal who?” Her dad joked with a knowing smile.

 

Evie raised an eyebrow. “Really?”

 

Her dad chuckled but then he looked at her more seriously.

 

“Look, I don't know what happened with you two, but I know… how you opened up when she was around,” Evie looked down for a moment but this was her dad. She carefully looked back into his honest eyes, that looked so much like her own, as he continued. “I mean, not with us, because you've always been like that with us, but to the world.”

 

There was a pause. “Seeing you come alive like that, you remind me of her,”

 

Evie had to cast her eyes away from her dad’s sincere confession. She knew he was right. She knew all along. Mal changed her life in many ways and Evie did feel alive whenever she was with the purple haired girl. Knowing that her dad thought of her mother whenever Evie opened herself to the world made her really emotional and maybe fall in love with a Mal a little more.

 

“Just don't hide that part of yourself, ok honey?”

 

Evie nodded, knowing he was right.

 

“Dad, I really miss her,” Evie confessed. She hadn’t said that out loud in a while and hearing herself say it made her eyes fill with tears. Her dad nodded.

 

“I know you do,” He said, placing his hand on top of hers in his own dad like comforting way. Evie couldn’t help but to think that her dad was an awesome man. She eyed the jukebox and had an idea.

 

“Can I borrow a quarter?” She asked with a bit of a smile.

 

He grinned and grabbed the coin, throwing it at her. “Yeah. Catch,” Evie caught it with both hands.

 

“So, you said she'd always play the song twice?” She asked while putting the coin on the respective slot.

 

“At least, usually till they'd kick us out of here,” Her dad chuckled, the memories probably flooding his mind.

 

Evie beamed at him and pressed the button on the jukebox. The father and daughter duo shared a look and smiled as the song filled the air once more.

 

Cool.”

 

 

//

 

 

“Well, like, I didn't hear anything about it, though,” Jane tells Evie as they walk the school hall with Lonnie. Winter break was officially over, which meant going to school.

 

“The Debate Society's New Year's Eve nitrous oxide scandal knocked it out of top spot,” Lonnie happily informed.

 

“Ok, so that's good news, right?” Evie asked her friends. “I mean, I'm officially back to being invisible,” She added and both girls chuckled. She took that as a good sign until she saw a commotion around her locker. Her stomach dropped as she pushed through the bodies and was greeted with a picture of the video of her and Mal’s hot tub’s escapade glued to her locker. The words ‘It’s always the ones you never expect!!’ were written right below the picture in a big black calligraphy.

 

Evie frowned, suddenly feeling the weight of the entire situation. She hadn’t been in school when the video came out and it had been naïve of her to believe people would just forget about it, even though Snow solved the problem and got it deleted shortly after. The damage had been done. Evie wanted to do something but her body wouldn’t move. Then she saw how Lonnie aggressively ripped the picture and angrily glared at the crowd.

 

And that’s when Evie finally moved. She just wanted to disappear so she pushed the students out of her way, with a worried Lonnie on her tail, and passed quickly through the hall. The only reason she didn’t completely miss Mal was because she was walking right towards her and as soon as she saw the distress on Evie’s face, she basically forgot she was supposed to leave her alone and stopped Evie on her tracks.

 

“Hey...Whoa, whoa, whoa, hey, hey, hey,” Mal softly grabbed Evie’s arms. “What's going on, E?”

 

Evie immediately jerked away from Mal’s touch. Lonnie and Jane finally caught up with her and stopped walking, watching the interaction carefully.

 

“You didn't even say it wasn't true? You just let everyone think we had sex in the hot tub when you know we didn’t?” Evie accused Mal, raising her voice at her. She knew she had all eyes on her but that didn’t matter right now. Evie was beyond mad. “I bet you're happy the video leaked,”

 

Mal frowned deeply. Evie didn’t mean those words and they were absolutely not true, because no matter how mad Evie was, she knew Mal wasn’t that type of girl. But Mal was the perfect person to direct her anger towards, so that’s what she did. Then she turned on her heels and kept walking. That was the last place she wanted to be right now.

 

“Are you going to do something about this?” Lonnie angrily asked while shoving the crumpled picture on Mal’s hands, an interaction Evie missed because she was almost out of there. However, she froze at the sound of Mal’s bright voice booming through the hall, shutting everyone up almost immediately.

 

“Hey, everyone, listen up!”

 

Evie turned around. Mal was now standing right in the middle of the hallway. Her face was twisted with anger, her jaw was clenched, her hands were clenched in fists, the picture smashed in between her fingers and there was a dangerous fire behind her eyes that clearly stated she was not to be messed with. Her tone came out harsh and threatening as she spoke next. “Not that it's anyone's business, but nothing happened in the hot tub. If I hear anybody talking about Evie or that video, I'm going to kick all of your asses. You understand?”

 

There was a heavy silence filling the air. Mal was still one of the most popular students on that school and she was still heavily feared. No one would want to end up on her bad side.

 

“Nice job, Bertha,” Lonnie mumbled but Mal didn’t care to listen, as she was already half way through the hallway, chasing after Evie who had already turned around again to leave. Mal ran for it and was able to reach Evie.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” Mal stopped right in front of Evie, softly pleading for her attention. “Look, I am really sorry about everything, ok? If I knew who did this—"

 

“I know who did it. And so should you,” Evie cut her off crossing her arms.

 

“Yeah, ok,” Mal sights, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Let me talk to him, ok?”

 

“No,” Evie shook her head. “This is a fight I have to handle myself,”

 

Evie then pushed past Mal, who frowned but didn’t stop her. It was time to end this, once and for all.

 

 

//

 

Evie found Ben at his locker a little later. Ironically enough, the hall was empty. Evie didn’t slow down until she was right next to him. She was so close, she could feel the fabric of his blue suit on her skin. He was so distracted by what he was doing that it took him a bit to notice Evie’s presence.

 

Ben closed the locker and eyed Evie. “Um, hi... Personal space, much?” He sneered.

 

Evie didn’t move. She didn’t even blink. She was so done with him.

 

“I know you posted that video,”

 

“Uh, nope, it wasn't me,” Evie could punch his pompous face right now because he dared to lie to her face. “But just so you know, if you have sex in a public place, you have to deal with consequences,”

 

“That is despicable and you know it, Ben,” Evie raised her voice.

 

Ben leaned on the lockers and glared at Evie. “Yeah, like I said, I didn't do it. But you know what, I'm glad someone did, though. Finally, everyone is going to see who you really are,” He kept his chest puffed and his chin high as he grabbed his bag, ready to leave but Evie slammed her hand on the nearest locker, blocking his path. This conversation wasn’t over.

 

“What the hell are you talking about?”

 

“Mal!” Ben suddenly yelled. “She is not as confident as she pretends to be. I am not as tough and as perfect as I pretend to be,” He then turns to face Evie up front.

 

“And you, Evie Grimhilde, you are not as innocent as you pretend to be, because you kissed the girl that I liked!” Ben was basically shrieking right now.

 

“Ben, you guys were broken up,” Evie protested immediately.

 

“No, no, no, before we even dated,” Ben corrected her, his jaw clenched. Evie had to think for a second. Could it be…

 

“… Middle school?

 

“You knew I liked her and you kissed her anyway,” Ben grumbled, frustrated.

 

“It was Spin the Bottle, you moron, and it was tongueless!” Evie couldn’t believe what she was hearing. Was that the real reason why Ben had stopped being Evie’s friend all together?

 

“It wasn't tongueless to me!” Ben yelled. Then he slammed his fist on the locker and Evie took a step back. “Look, I already have the next thirty years of my life meticulously planned out. I have to wear these stupid suits every day, walk like I own the world, speak a certain way, all because my arrogant father wants me to take over the family business and will disown me if I don’t. Evie, I hate every second of it! I didn’t have a say in this!” He shakily confessed, breathing heavily.

 

Evie frowned because it was just like she had imagined it. Ben’s entire persona was in fact an act, an act he perfected over the years, so no one could see how miserable he was. And the real Ben, the one who was Evie’s friend was still there somewhere deep down. Ben then shoved his hand inside his bag and took out Evie’s scrunchie.

 

“Here,” He extended it to her. “Mal only took it off so it wouldn’t get wet while she was washing her hands at Harry’s party. She never forgot it or left it there. I saw it when I went up to talk to her and took it as I did so. She was so distracted trying to get away from me and back to you that she didn’t notice it was gone. It’s not her fault,” Ben quietly explained and suddenly the real Ben was right there in front of her, looking deeply ashamed. “I’m sorry I took it, I’m sorry I used it to hurt your feelings and jeopardize your relationship,”

 

Evie didn’t know what to say, so she silently took the scrunchie from Ben’s hand and placed it on her wrist.

 

“Mal was the only one that made me feel like myself. Dating her was the only choice I ever really made in my life and even that slipped right through my fingers, that’s all,”

 

Evie reached out to his arm and squeezed it.

 

“Ben, I’m so sorry—”

 

“Don’t be,” Ben shook his head. “It’s not anyone’s fault. She likes you now. It is what it is,”

 

Evie gave him an apologetic look. Ben threw his bag over his shoulder and looked down. “I’m sorry for the way I treated you all these years. I’m so sorry for posting the video… Is there any chance you can forgive me?”

 

Evie looked over at the boy. When he looked up, he almost gasped as he was met with a smile.

 

“We’ll get there,” The video was still very present on her head and she wasn’t ready to just forgive him for it. “But everyone deserves a second chance,” Evie then said. And she meant it.

 

Ben grinned, the boyish grin Evie knew so well. He mumbled an excited ‘Thanks, I’ll be better, I promise’, and dashed through the hallway.

 

Evie sighted, relieved. She wanted this whole thing to be over and out and working her way into forgiving Ben felt right. Deep down she always knew he wasn’t a bad person. Maybe Mal knew that too, she probably even knew about his distaste for his father or for what his life had become. Maybe Mal knew the real Ben. Evie just never cared to ask. Maybe Evie should’ve cared more.

 

Evie always thought no one was paying attention to what she was doing, that the only drama in her life was in her head, but it turns out that she wasn't as invisible as she thought.

 

 

//

 

 

“So, Snow left, huh?”

 

“Yeah, this Sunday,”

 

Evie and Audrey found themselves both sitting on Evie’s couch for the first time in a while. Evie hadn’t talked to Audrey since that big fight on her porch with Mal but she had to fix this. Audrey didn’t deserve to stay in the dark.

 

“Hey, thank you for coming over,” Evie quietly said.

 

“Yeah, of course,” Audrey chuckled.

 

“I feel like I owe you an explanation,” Evie then started, looking down for a bit. Audrey didn’t say anything, only waited. Evie took a deep breath.

 

“See... It's like driving, ok? I can imagine myself doing it and it's fine, and then I get behind the wheel and completely freeze up, and I just don't know what to do,”

 

“Ok...” Audrey said, squinting a bit. “I don't follow,” She adds, tilting her head slightly, a little confused. She was smiling, though.

 

Evie gives her a sheepish smile. It made perfect sense inside her head but she could totally see how confusing it must have sounded to Audrey.

 

“Let me start over,” Evie tried again, a nervous chuckle following her words.

 

There was a pause. Evie was trying to piece the puzzle inside her head so she could better explain herself to Audrey. Then she looked at the brunette and tried again.

 

“You were the first girl I ever really liked. Even long before I realized what it really meant for me...that I was attracted only to girls, I mean. Everyone else, all the other letters to the other girls, were born out of fantasy. But yours was based off of actually knowing you,” Evie slowly explained, feeling like it was the right way to express her feelings. Audrey gave her the slightest of nods, remaining in silence, knowing Evie wasn’t done.

 

“I didn't realize how I truly felt about you until you became Snow's girlfriend,” A pause. Evie watched Audrey carefully, afraid of messing this all up or of hurting her feelings. “But over time, that feeling just… faded away, and I missed my best friend. And it wasn't love.” Evie concluded, feeling a huge weight being lifted off her chest. She nervously waited for Audrey’s response.

 

“Why didn't you just tell me that? I feel like I would’ve understood,” Audrey gently asked, a hint of curiosity on her voice.

 

“Well, I couldn't,” Evie replied with a shrug. “I didn't know… until Mal,”

 

“Right. Mal,” Audrey said with a little amused smile.

 

“It was real in a different way,” Evie explained. “And I'm really sorry,”

 

Audrey shakes her head. “No reason to be sorry, it's like, I think I know where you're coming from. It's kind of how it was with Snow and I. You know, minus all the fake stuff and everything else,” She said and Evie chuckles softly. Then something came to Evie’s mind, something she had wanted to ask Audrey for a while now.

 

“Did you stop loving Snow after she broke up with you?”

 

 

“No. Not at first,” She replied, maybe a bit too fast, as she grows silent for a bit, thinking it through first before speaking again. “At some point it changed, though. The longer she was gone, the more I understood why she ended it,” Evie nodded quietly. A beat. And then:

 

“Do you feel the same way about Mal?” Audrey asked.

 

“I know you don't like her,” Evie said with a little smile. But Audrey smiled back and shrugged.

 

“I like how she stood up for you today. I mean, she should have done it a lot sooner, but then again, she's a jock, and they're slow learners,”

 

“You are such a snob,” Evie chuckled teasingly.

 

“Yeah,” Audrey agreed with a soft smile. “Look, if you miss her, why don't you just tell her?”

 

Evie shook her head. “I can't,”

 

“And why is that?”

 

Evie didn’t answer right away, even though she knew exactly why. When she replied, her voice came out quiet and vulnerable.

 

“Because if it wasn't real, I didn't lose anyone. But if I say that it was real, and she still doesn't want me...”

 

“Then at least you'll know,” Audrey gently filled in the blank for her. “Listen Eves, you have to tell people how you feel when you feel it. You can't sit in your room writing love letters you're never going to send out. I mean, Mal wouldn't even be in your life if they hadn't gotten out in the first place,”

 

“Yeah, you definitely have a point,” Evie immediately agrees. Then she sights. “I don't know, I'm just so tired of writing love letters. It'd be nice to be the one receiving them,”

 

“Evie, I have something for you,”

 

Evie turns around to find Dizzy walking slowly towards the couch, holding the box her mother gave her, that went missing when the letters got out.

 

“Don't kill me,” Dizzy quietly pleads while handing her the box. Evie takes it in her hands. “It's just, you were always throwing those away… and I thought they were something you should keep,” Her little sister sounded really nervous. Evie opened the box and was surprised to find all of the notes Mal had given her. Evie thought nothing of them, because supposedly they were meant to piss off Ben and nothing else. So, Evie never read them. She looks up at her little sister, who had been waiting for her reaction.

 

“You saved all these?”

 

Dizzy nods with an adorable smile gracing her features. Evie grabbed a few notes, all marked with her name and they all had little crown doodles, either blue or purple. Evie read them out loud.

 

‘Evie, everyone was so impressed by your presentation in lit, but especially me. I love having a smarty pants fake girlfriend.’

 

‘It's so cool how we can talk to each other about real stuff.’

 

‘You looked so pretty today, E. Blue really is your color.’

 

Evie couldn’t help the stupid smile that grew more and more with each note she read.

 

“Still think you haven't gotten a love letter?”

 

Evie looked over at Audrey, who gave her a gentle smile. She had to smile back at how corny it sounded but, then again, Evie was a hopeless romantic and she loved a good cliché. Then she glanced at her little sister, who was grinning adorably. If Evie really thought about it, Dizzy had been the reason all of that even happened in the first place.

 

The next thing she knows, she’s out the door and sliding into the driver’s seat of her car, a place she hadn’t been in for a long time. She took long deep breaths as she started the car. And then she…drove.

 

 

//

 

As she arrives to the parking lot of their school, Evie doesn’t even bother to park the car correctly and gets out walking in fast and steady paces. She knows lacrosse practice is over by now but she also knows Mal is always the last to leave because she likes to practice on her own, it was relaxing to her. Also, because she was team captain and she had the responsibility of leaving everything in order. Mal was definitely there and she wasn’t hard to spot, with her dark purple hair as Evie got closer and closer.

 

And they closer she got, the more nervous she became. Evie started slowing down, feeling her heart hammering in her chest.

 

Mal had her back turned to her, holding the lacrosse beacon with her hands and placing it on the correct spot. Evie even considered turning back but she didn’t have the time to give it any further thought because Mal turned around and stopped on her tracks as she spotted Evie.

 

“Hey,” Mal called out to her, her face showing a mix of curiousness and confusion.

 

Evie’s heart skipped a beat.

 

“Hi. I have to tell you something,” She called back.

 

Mal started walking towards her. “Ok,”

 

Evie felt more and more nervous the closer Mal got, the shot of courage she had before, fading. “I drove here,” She announced. It wasn’t what she was there for but she also felt that is was important for Mal to have that information.

 

“Really?” Mal stops walking. “Wow, that's... that's... that's great, congrats,” She adds and she managed to sound both a little proud of Evie and a little disappointed because she was most likely expecting to hear something else.

 

“Thanks,” Evie blurts out and turns to leave but Mal demands her attention again, making Evie turn back to face her.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Mal starts walking towards Evie again with a little smirk that showed off one of her dimples and gives Evie’s hand a little nudge. “What's that in your hand?”

 

Evie completely forgot she was holding the piece of paper and even though Mal had seen it already, she still tried to hide it.

 

“Oh, uh, nothing,”

 

“Oh, it's nothing?” Mal raised an eyebrow and her smirk grew bigger. Suddenly Mal was right in front of Evie and snatching the paper out of her hand before Evie could even start thinking about stopping her. Mal stares at it for a bit and her smile fades. She shakes her head.

 

“If you want me to read that, you need to give that to me,”

 

Mal holds the paper for Evie to take back. She does and studies the look Mal gave her just now.

 

‘C’mon Evie. You got this. You even drove here.’ She thinks to herself. She then looks Mal in the eye.

 

“Um... Can you turn around?” Mal raised an eyebrow, amused and Evie, almost sheepishly, adds: “Please?”

 

Mal chuckles softly and does as asked, slowly turning her back to Evie. Evie unfolds the piece of paper and after a moment of mental preparation, starts reading.

 

“Dear Mal, I need you to know that...”

 

Then she stops herself. Evie looks at the paper, then at Mal and suddenly her idea of telling Mal what she wanted didn’t feel right anymore. She was scared but if she was really doing this, she had to look Mal in the eye and face her fear. So, she gently taps Mal’s shoulder. Mal turns around and her green eyes fall on Evie’s. Yes, there was definitely a sparkle in her very green eyes, beautifully lit by the sunlight. Now it felt right. And as it felt so right, her fear was now gone.

 

“I need you to know that I like you, Mal Bertha. And not in a fake way. And so, I guess that's all I came here to say,”

 

Mal seemed to be processing Evie’s words, without breaking eye contact. But Evie felt a pang of fear for ever second that Mal stayed silent and so, after a few seconds she exhales, starting to turn around, mostly against her will.

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa...” Mal stops her again. Evie looks at her. “Don't I get to say something?” She asks with the tiniest of smiles.

 

Evie figured it was only fair and waits for Mal to speak up.

 

“The reason that I went to Ben's room that night, was to tell him that it’s over, because...” Mal trails off, probably searching for the courage she needs to keep going. Then her eyes settle back on Evie’s, confident and determined. “Because I'm in love with you, Evie Grimhilde. Only you,”

 

Evie beamed at her and she felt butterflies in her stomach, her heart hammering furiously against her rib cage.

 

“You're what?”

 

The smile Mal gave her was big and dashing, with both her dimples out. She stepped forward, ready to lean in for a kiss but Evie’s mind was thinking of something else and she stopped Mal.

 

“Wait... How do we do this?”

 

“What do you mean?” Mal asked, confused.

 

“What do you put into a contract for a real relationship?” Evie answered Mal’s question with her own, a genuine expression of worry in her face.

 

“Nothing,” Mal replied chuckling adorably. “You have to trust,”

 

Evie smiled at Mal and it’s all the purple haired girl needed. Mal gently pulled Evie closer.

 

“Are you going to break my heart, Blueberry?” Mal teasingly asked, her favorite smirk perfectly in place.

 

Evie shook her head with a little smile and it’s all she gets to do because Mal is already on her tip toes and placing a gentle kiss on Evie’s lips, wrapping her hands around the blue haired girl’s waist so their bodies are softly pressed together. In the end, everything was right in the world. They both said what needed to be said and now all they needed was to get lost in each other.

 

Evie had always fantasized about falling in love in a field…

 

but she just never thought that it’d be the kind where you played lacrosse.