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It Can Be In Any Tense, But It Must Make Sense

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Mary swallowed, steeled herself and held out her lyrics book. "Can you take a look at-"

Lizzie pulled a half apologetic face, mouth a perfect backslash. "Can't, have to go talk to these press guys because Charlotte said that if one more dude tried to mansplain the post record industry age she was going to start a-murdering, and they looked like the type."

"Extra death for mentioning Troye Sivan," Mary said, with feeling. Nothing personal, but seriously. "Like we wouldn't know who he was. And anyway, he's not the messiah..."

"He's a very naughty boy," Lizzie joined in. They grinned at each other, and Lizzie said, "Oh, fine, give it to me, I'll look as soon as I can."

Lydia had always said that Lizzie and Mary couldn't get on because they were too similiar but here with their defined roles, singer and songwriter, they seemed to be doing pretty well. Lizzie was always honest, sometimes slightly too honest, to be honest, and Mary would be putting her words into Lizzie's mouth, it was important that they fit with her. She'd sometimes show Lydia but... not so much with... that. At the moment.

Anyway, Lydia refused to even join in the choruses of Mary's "totally not danceable dullsville feelsbore" songs, or the slower numbers as normal people called them.

Mr and Mrs Bennet had bought Lydia a set of drums to try and "manage her energy". That hadn't exactly worked out for them. Lizzie did a particularly great impression of Mrs Bennet’s description of how she’d “accidentally” lost three of Lydia's cymbals in a spring clean.

Lizzie glanced down at the open page. "What's this one about?"

Mary had a lot of feelings about songs meaning whatever the listener wanted to bring to them, but Lizzie liked to have the feeling right from the source, it all got very ‘Inside The Actors Studio’ given a chance.

"It's about liking someone but in a way that you worry will stop them liking you? And you know that you can't tell them but everything in you wants them to know but also never find out. Then they're not even the kind of person you thought you could ever be this conflicted about but you are."

Lizzie laughed, grinned and then stopped abruptly as she very clearly remembered that Charlotte was out there with access to IP addresses and blunt objects. She threw a, "Sounds complicated," back at Mary as she fled.

Mary wrote the song, okay, she knew.

It wasn't the being in love with a girl thing. She'd not ever been that worried, not in her liberaler than thou L.A high school and her corners of the internet and - god, she knew she was lucky - her parents. But Mary had had her falling in love with a girl scenario pretty much planned out since she knew that she wanted to. It would be in grad school and they would fall in love over many cups of coffee after running into each other at the second hand book store and fighting over the last copy of, something obsure but not cliche... She'd be older, bright and brilliant and Mary would fall for her all drizzle-hurricane and starry-eyed.

But then she, She would love Mary right back in the unwrapping of scarves and tentative half ironic half earnest declarations.

Mary had spent a lot of time daydreaming over the years and this one had gotten a lot of mileage.

But no, no reality had other ideas. Mary didn't know what was worse, that she'd fallen for a straight girl or that she'd fallen for her cousin.

Complicated. Lizzie Bennet didn't know the half of it.

*

The tourbus was small and ancient and crowded and not really a place that Mary ever thought that she’d be, ever thought that she’d want to be. They’d all spent nights here when their system of calling in favors had failed, all curled around each other in various degrees of of uncomfortable resentment.

It was just a year out, Mary had been very clear with all the Bennets about this. She was not dropping out of school to follow them around the country forever, however compelling Lizzie and Charlotte's plans for World Musical Domination sounded.

She wasn't really sure how they managed to talk her into coming with them in the first place. Mary wasn't a performer, she just wrote most of the songs, which she had been and was totally capable of doing from her dorm room. But Lizzie had been determined and Jane had looked all tragic eyed and Lydia... Well, Mary had given up on pretending that she could say no to Lydia when they'd been eight and Mary had ended up with blue hair at Christmas.

And, oh, god, it was so horrifying that Mary was crushing super hard on someone who she can picture at eight, so unfair. Mary hadn’t even really liked her then, had been glad when their parents had stopped taking Mary round to the Other Bennets every holidays, had been so pissed when Lydia had brought her whirlwind of mess and terrible music and really terrible life choices into Mary’s house. Mary was crushing on someone who non ironically said things like “totes” and who probably die if made to wear a sensible wool scarf and who might have been living a Katy Perry song, only not the one that Mary wanted. Only not really, because, ew. Mary was stupid for a stupid party girl, fuck everything.

Only, that wasn’t really fair to Lydia, who read faster over Mary’s shoulder than Mary could go herself, which Mary knew because Lydia would get bored waiting for her to catch up and flip the page, or make a noise every time someone did something that she found shocking or funny or stupid. People in books made a lot of stupid decisions, according to Lydia. Lydia Bennet who loved her family so much it made her do stupid, amazing things, like the dedicated trolling she was still doing to Darcy’s stupid music blog for people who thought pitchfork had gotten too mainstream. Lizzie had been mad in that quieter, worse way that she only ever was when she was hurt, and Lydia had... procured vodka from somewhere and chocolate from the stash that she kept under the front seat of the van that no one else but Mary knew about, and they had all got drunk and angry and Lizzie had read out the piece in increasingly ridiculous voices until she’d fallen over.

And the next day the website had started to have problems, and Darcy’s twitter had been bombarded with judgments about everything from his hat (which totally was stupid) to his word choice (also stupid) until he’d promised to actually come see one of their shows to get a proper judgement.

They still had his first “review”, written after seeing some promo pictures, a bitchy paragraph in a longer dismissal of their local music scene.

It’s telling that everyone here is raving about Lizzie and the Bennets, who seem to be Big On The Internet, and like will no doubt appeal only to those whose attention span is typical of that audience, unable to hold anyone’s interest for more than five minutes. I suppose that one is supposed to overlook the clear lack of musical training in favour of checking out the pretty girls, but the lead singer is not enough to tempt me into the path of twee girl indierock.

It was far from the worst thing that anyone has written about them, and not even the least original. They are from youtube, if William Darcy thinks that making snide remarks about their looks is new he can take a trip to the comments section any day ending in y.

But it struck a chord (some pun intended) with Lizzie and so it stayed on their wall in among Jane’s drawings and fabric swatches, and the cliche bingo sheets with their “comparisons to the Pipettes” and “comments about Lydia’s shorts” squares.

People made remarks about Lydia all the time and it was easy to fall into that trap with them, especially when Mary was angry, when Lydia was ruining all her sensuous careful plans by making Mary feel angry and unsure and plain horny, possibly the worst word in the whole English language.

And that’s why she couldn’t let herself fall into that trap, not when Lydia got it from commenters, from Lizzie and Charlotte and even from Jane sometimes, well meaning as their advice about “reputation” was. Not when Lydia didn’t deserve that.

One day, Mary knew it, she would write a song, and wouldn’t be able to stop herself, would write an ode to crazy, caring, brilliant Lydia, the best friend she didn’t ever think she’d make and the girl she never thought that she’d fall for. A love song for a girl, just the way she was.