I finished and immediately covered my mouth. Liam looked fairly taken aback.
“I can’t believe I just said that.” I murmured, tears beginning to fall.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay.” He took me in a hug again. “Cara honey, you realise you just made no sense. You want to be on your own but you want the attention?”
“I know… I know…”
“But I think you’re right. You’re always there for people, all the time. But they obviously want to be there for you now. Maybe you should let them?”
“I can’t stand it.”
“Being the weak one. I mean, with Sam, being with her, I’m playing the housewife type, I know. But it’s all a joke. She gives me space, just like I give her space… we… we’re equal. But now she’s being so careful with me… I feel like a glass doll. I feel like I think Anna was… is… was… The Rapunzel, not the Mulan.”
“Well, maybe you need to be, just for this one moment in your life. Let people take care of you. You can’t seriously be telling me all of this is because Sam won’t play a little rough with you?”
“No.” I nudged him. “That’s not all. It’s just… I don’t like not being in control of anything. I feel like I’m drowning.”
“Well, I may never have told you this, but I am a trained lifeguard. So if you’re drowning, call me.”
“And you’ll come running like Baywatch?”
“Oh yeah. You know me, can’t resist wearing a pair of red shorts. I’m the style king.”
“You’re an arse.” I grinned. “But you’ve made me feel better. So, thanks, arse king.”
“You make me sound gay.”
“Aren’t you?” I teased. “Thought you and Kay were getting kind of close…”
“Being ill does not save you from being tickled you know.” He warned. “No, not gay. In fact I’ve been meaning to tell you, I’ve got a date.”
“A date?” I grinned, keen for gossip and a distraction. “With who?”
“A girl I met when I was putting band posters up. She’s hot. So we’re going out next Saturday.”
“Well good luck! It’s about time someone snatched you up. Although Kay will be heartbroken.”
“Right.” He grinned and began tickling me until I called out for mercy, quicker than normal. I sat up, panting, and his eyebrows creased. “I reckon we should get you home.”
“Sleep…” I murmured, still trying to sort my breathing out.
“Come on.” He got up, pulled me with him, and walked me out of the room and in to the kitchen. Callum was sitting there, munching on cereal. He smiled at me as I walked by. We got to the door and as Liam opened it he chuckled.
“You haven’t scared Sam away yet.”
I peered out and saw her waiting there still, in the car. It’d been over an hour and a half.
“She’s a keeper.” I murmured, smiling to myself.
“And she plays Quidditch too… what a catch.” Liam smirked.
“Shut up nerd.”
“You’ve watched them more times than me.”
“Fair point arse king.” I heard Callum spitting his cereal out with howls of laughter.
“Shut it Callum you dick!” Liam called.
“Bye Liam. Thanks again.” I gave him a hug then leaned in to the house again. “Bye Callum, bye shaggers!” I yelled. Callum waved, choking, from the table.
“Look after yourself. Come over whenever. Not that you didn’t already do that but-“
“Yeah yeah, I got it. Thanks.” I gave him another hug and then headed down the path, circling the car and climbing in to the passenger side. “Hey,” I murmured as Sam looked at me. “Sorry it took so long.”
“That’s alright. Listen Cara I’ve been thinking, about the tests-“
“-Me too. If you want to have them, have them. We can talk about… afterwards… after. If it makes you feel better… if you want to do it… I won’t stop you.” I smiled. Her grin broke out and she reached across and kissed me smartly on the mouth.
“Thank you. That’s all I wanted.”
“I know. I just… I needed to think.”
“Sorry I pushed… I just… I really want to help, in any way I can…”
“You are. Just by being here. Just promise me that if you are… compatible, and I say no, you’ll let it be?”
“I-“ She started, frowning.
“I can’t promise I won’t fight you on it.”
“So long as you know when to stop.”
She looked like she’d continue to comment but clearly realised it was for another time.
“Home? Will you call your mother tonight?”
“If that cup of tea is still on the cards?”
“Always.” She smiled, and started the car up.
“I’d better tell Anna, about the testing.”
We pulled out of the space and I wrote out a text.
Anna. Decided you can be tested. Won’t fight you on it. Might about anything after though. Just so you know. C xxx
Sam passed me the mug of tea and slipped in to bed with me as I waited for my mum to pick up the phone. The ringing continued…
“Cara? What is it darling, I’m about to go out.”
“Oh… it can wait, I mean…” Sam nudged me and shook her head. “Actually mum… it can’t wait.”
“Is something the matter?”
“Mum, I got some news… from the doctors. I had some tests done a while back and…”
“You did so well baby.” Sam crooned as I lay in her arms, crying.
“I’ve never heard her that upset… or worried.”
“Of course she was worried. You’re her daughter.”
“I know I just…” My crying overwhelmed me and Sam held me, kissing my forehead and stroking my skin with her spidery fingers until I felt completely exhausted. I hadn’t eaten all day, hadn’t slept much the night before, and everything had taken over. I slept, wrapped in her arms, while the sun set and people began to creep from their homes to party the night away.
“Sleep sweetheart.” Sam murmured, kissing my head and unwrapping herself from me to go and fill her stomach. I was half aware of her, dozing in and out of an uncomfortable sleep as I was, and I heard when the plate in the kitchen crashed, and her sobs ripped through the flat.
“Sam?” I called. “Sam?”
She appeared in the doorway, eyes red.
“Sorry baby. I’m sorry. I couldn’t bear it anymore.”
Then she crept in beside me and, sleepily, I folded myself against her and kissed the skin of her chest, until the shudders of her crying stopped, and I fell asleep again.