Aiden didn't bother knocking. He opened the door with his shoulder and sidestepped back in, and Lydia squeaked and leapt down from the side of the bath. This made Aiden grin. He stood, thumbs hooked into the belt-loops of his trousers, as Amelia entered the bathroom again. She'd evidently been rooting through Mrs Smith's wardrobe, as she was now holding a pair of black heeled shoes in one hand.
'I can't put those on,' Lydia stammered.
'Yes you can,' Amelia said. She put the shoes on the floor and stood beside Aiden, putting one arm around him. 'You look a lot better.'
Lydia stood on a pink flannel rug, knees knocking, pondering the validity of Amelia's statement. She stepped forward into the shoes, trying not to wobble.
'It's alright,' she told them. 'Why are you doing this?'
Aiden answered, looking her in the eyes. 'Because you don't want to feel weak.'
'But what do you care anyway?'
They didn't answer. Instead, Aiden sat on the edge of the bath, and Amelia came forward, reaching behind Lydia for the medicine cupboard. Lydia duly stepped out of the way, teetering on her heels and stumbling against Aiden.
'Sorry,' she mumbled, getting herself upright again. Amelia was looking through Mrs Smith's make-up bag and was clearly disgusted by what she was seeing in there. Then she found what she was looking for.
'Oh no,' Lydia said, tugging at her skirt. 'I'm not doing that.'
'It's not permenant,' Amelia assured her, stepping forward. 'It'll come out in a few washes.'
'I don't have that long,' Lydia pleaded. 'If my mother sees me with my hair dyed she'll explode. And I really don't want that to happen. Please.'
Amelia smiled and sat close to Aiden on the edge of the bath. Aiden spoke. 'We know, Lydia. We have parents just like yours. They didn't like it when we changed. But they had to get used to it. We stayed like this, and we were happy. You need to do whatever makes you feel strong, whatever protects you from the life your mother wants you to lead.' He took the box of dye from his cousin and held it in both hands, looking at Lydia. 'I'll do it. I promise I'll do a good job.'
Lydia wobbled uncertainly. She really wasn't sure about this. Her gut was telling her not to do it. It was too far. The clothes she could take off. She couldn't un-dye her hair. Lydia could predict her mother's reaction, and it wouldn't wear off any time soon. But Aiden and Amelia were both staring at her, willing her to do it.
She nodded, went to the sink and bent her neck over it as Aiden put on the gloves from the dye packet. He stood behind her, preparing the dye. Lydia hoped her trembling wasn't too visible.
'Don't worry.' Amelia smiled warmly from the bath as Aiden took up his position behind her. 'This won't take long.'