When Eve finds out (through Ezekiel, the traitor) that she’s never been to a sleepover, she gives Cassandra an awful, yet so radiantly wonderful, wink that makes Cassandra’s heart flutter like the wings she wanted as a child and says “we’ll have to fix that then” with the bright, brilliant smile that lifts Cassandra up, up and away, through the clouds to dreamland.
But at least I got you in my head, oh yeah
In this dreamland Eve saves this smile for Cassandra. In the real world, Flynn is the one who gets the pleasure of its appearance most often. But this is dreamland, Cassandra’s dreamland, and so the smile is for her. Only her.
Even when you’re next to me it’s not the way I’m picturing, no
Later, they’re on a mission, which somehow involves a long, (seemingly) ageless train ride. And naturally, Eve gets so sick of Jake and Zeke’s bickering that, to punish them, she makes them sit together. Therefore, Cassandra and Eve sit together. There are no table seats, so it’s just them, squashed together, closer than they have been so far in their new lives.
At least she has the window seat.
They talk about something generic, an artefact, a movie, that new clothes store two streets away, the new Netflix show, but smalltalk like this cannot last forever, and this train ride can. The conversation dwindles into a safe silence, one which neither woman feels compelled to break. Cassandra leans her head on the window, and Eve shoots a death glare at the boys. She rests her hand on Cassandra’s knee and gently squeezes. She must miss the way Cassandra -stops- because Eve leaves her hand there and starts rubbing her thumb over the rest of Cassandra’s knee. Goodness.
at least I got you in my head, in my head
And just like that, Cassandra’s back in dreamland. Here, now Eve has her hand on Cassandra’s knee, she looks up at Eve and their eyes meet, and there is a spark. Here, once their eyes have met, Cassandra’s hand meets Eve’s on her knee. Here, once their hands are touching, there is nothing stopping them from leaning in and kissing each other. And so, in dreamland, they do. And it is warm and sweet and special and-
Because in the real world Eve is straight, and in love (lust?) with Flynn- whose heart deserves to stay unbroken- and Cassandra is far too timid to come out to anyone, much less kiss the girls she wants to.
You wanna be friends forever I can think of something better
Because Eve brings her back to reality by stopping the gentle rubbing of her thumb and moving to put her hand on Cassandra’s shoulder. “You ok, red?” Why does that nickname feel so nice from Eve, and like a punch in the face from everyone else? “If the boys are bothering you we can probably move, might teach them a lesson,” she smirks, but there is sympathy in her eyes and the kindness in the gesture makes Cassandra’s heart melt. Cassandra gives a small, sad smile and says “no, it’s not… they aren’t bothering me” Eve must notice the emotion Cassandra feels but cannot place because she squeezes Cassandra’s shoulder and changes the subject. “You know, I lived somewhere near here when I was a kid”
“Really?” Cassandra asks and she really wants to know because she loves learning new things about Eve and because when Eve tells stories her face changes- not in a bad way, Eve could never be anything less than wonderful- and she gets so into the stories and her hands start waving everywhere and- well, Cassandra just really loves watching and listening to Eve- maybe as much as she likes Eve.
“Yeah, my mom got posted here when…” and from there they have a conversation about parents (“so you were a military brat then, Colonel Baird?” “Excuse you, there was nothing bratty about me”) and mothers and family (do none of the librarians have normal families?) and growing up, and just like that they’re at the stop. Jake informs them the journey took close enough to four hours, then mutters something about Ezekiel falling asleep in the middle of their argument. Four hours. Cassandra’s mother used to say that if an hour felt like a minute with someone, you loved them. She doesn’t want her mother to be right.
Sleeping here right next to me, but will you ever mess with me? No.
The mission, just to spite Cassandra, lasts longer than they thought. And because fate enjoys teasing people who are dying, the only hotel nearby has two rooms left. Two double rooms. No single beds.
By some miracle, she doesn’t have to sleep with one of the boys. Calamitously, this does mean she has to share a bed with Eve. They give each other as much privacy as they can, taking turns to change in the bathroom and promising each other they won’t mess with the other’s phone. Eve makes a comment about sleepovers with a smirk that lights up her eyes, and Cassandra promises that they’ll have a real one soon. At Cassandra’s comment, Eve’s smile grows into the bright and beautiful one that makes Cassandra feel like they’re the only people on earth. The moment passes and they settle down to sleep. Cassandra, desperate to make sure Eve is comfortable, lies rigid and moves as little as she can. Eve falls asleep quickly, and it turns out that she moves a lot whilst she sleeps. Cassandra mentally adds this to the list of things she loves about Eve because it is unbearably sweet. Then, Eve’s hand falls on Cassandra’s stomach and her world stops. Her heart rate goes up, and she floats back to dreamland.
In my head, in my head
This time, there is no thumb rubbing. Instead, as her hand falls on Cassandra’s stomach, Eve wakes up. She starts to move her hand, but Cassandra, bolder in her dreamland, covers it with her hand and tells her not to move it. She says “it feels nice,” and brings Eve’s hand to her mouth and kisses it gently, like a prince to his princess. Eve’s eyes widen as she murmurs “so did that”. Slowly, they lean in to kiss. It is slow and affectionate and soft. They pull apart to look into each other’s eyes. Dreamland Cassandra is also smoother, so she says “that felt nicer,” and kisses Eve again. They make out for a while, getting closer with each kiss, tangling the sheets as they go. Cassandra likes this, she and Eve are close and touching and together and kissing and perfect. It’s everything Cassandra wants.
But in the real world, Eve Baird stays asleep, and Cassandra Cillian can only dream.
And it breaks my heart, yeah it breaks my heart
They get back to the library the next day, after a full night’s sleep for Eve and a painful night for Cassandra. Flynn, incredibly, has returned, for a visit, he says. They are all delighted to see him, immediately telling him about their adventures at full speed. It’s lovely to see Flynn again, but Cassandra can’t help feeling a little awkward. She had spent last night fantasising about his girlfriend.
Once the ‘kids’ had finished trying to impress Flynn with their adventures, the novelty of having him home wore off. Ezekiel went to research his next steal, and Jake had a ‘date’ with some of his nieces. Cassandra found herself trying desperately to find an excuse to leave. She was not successful. Eve and Flynn start their whole ‘Librarian. Guardian.’ thing and Cassandra feels a pang of something through her heart. She can’t help but watch them flirting, despite trying hard to find an excuse to leave. She doesn’t want to watch. It hurts. She watches Flynn and Eve together and it hurts. She wants what they have and it hurts. She watches Eve give him the smile, the beaming smile she wants for herself and it aches. She watches them kiss gently and lovingly and it burns.
Perhaps, though, what hurts most, is that they are so happy. They truly love each other.
How could she, Cassandra who believed in true love long after her parents banned fairytales, get between that?
How could she, Cassandra ‘soulmates are real and soulmate magic is never wrong’ Cillian, get between that?
How could she, Cassandra ‘cried when her last girlfriend remembered her birthday’ Cillian, get between that?
And anyway, isn’t that what love is? Wanting the other person to be happy?
So she ignores the pain, ignores the need, ignores the want, ignores the desperation, and moves on. She doesn’t really, she could never, she just pushes forward.
She has a sleepover to look forward to, right?