The letter, in Anthony's awkward, scrawly handwriting, read:
Matilda. I'm writing myself, did you notice? I did get help with the spelling but that doesn’t count. I need to ask you to stay at school this holiday. Axel's sisters say that he's staying too so you won't be alone. You have to stay because I'm a bit ill. Don't worry. I'll get better. I just need a bit of time to fix up again. Love you, Anthony.
"Oh," Amy breathed in response to reading my letter. She passed it to Axel, because he looked so worried about me it was unreal.
"Oh dear," he muttered. "Hey, don't worry, all right?"
"Yeah, he said that he'll get better," Toni, who sounded almost as worried as Axel, insisted.
"He just needs some time," an equally worried Ewan agreed. "Like he said."
"Yeah, I suppose," I sighed. "It's just that he's always been so happy and carefree and he's never been… y'know…"
Axel put his arms around my shoulders and rubbed my arm. "Hey, I'm supposed to be the depressed one."
"He's still happy and carefree," Amy pointed out helpfully. "He just cares about you. I mean, at least he told you, right?"
"Exactly," Axel nodded. "Anna and Ella wouldn't have told me."
Toni smiled encouragingly, and folded up her letter to put it in her pocket. She didn't say anything, though. And the way Ewan looked at her made me think there was something they were hiding.
The bell marking the official start of the day went, and it meant that everyone who wasn't dressed yet should get dressed now, and everyone else had to sit in the common room and wait to hear what their first lesson was.
Ewan and Antonia had to go to a different common room to Axel and me, so they said goodbye to us. They were almost immediately engaged deep in conversation as they walked off.
"You worry way too much," Axel told me as he took my hand. I only came up to his shoulder, which he, for some reason, found absolutely hilarious. I didn't see the humour in it.
"No I don't," I contradicted him instantly.
"Yes you do," he said. "I saw the way you were looking at those two. I noticed that look they shared at breakfast, too."
"Oh," I said, starting to feel a bit uncomfortable.
"Tilly, they are allowed to have their privacy, you know."
"I know, I know," I sighed. "Sorry. I'm just a bit stressed."
"You're still wondering what they're keeping to themselves," Axel pointed out.
"Don't read my thoughts," I told him, annoyed slightly.
"I don't read thoughts, I hear them." He reminded me. "I don't get a choice in the matter."
"Should've listened in class. How else do you think I cope with everyone else's thought interrupting mine?" he asked.
"They created barriers already," I sulked. "Why don't you just tell me how to do it?"
"I have. Three times."
"You still have your pyjamas on," I quickly changed the subject so that he'd shut up about it.
"Yes I do, thanks for reminding me," Axel gave me his quick little smile, and then sighed. "Think about your favourite T-shirt." By this time we were sitting on a yellow sofa in the brilliantly named Yellow Common, so he kissed me and then got up and went to his dorm, leaving me completely baffled by his instruction.
Since there was nothing else to do except look at pictures of yellow stuff hanging on yellow walls, I got to thinking about my favourite T-shirt. It was a pastel blue colour, and the joins were yellow. It was all sewn together with white cotton. On the back, in pink bold letters, it said You know, I know you're reading me. And on the front, in green bold letters, was the sentence My face is up there. And then an arrow pointing upwards.
It was my favourite 'cause Anthony helped me make it when I was twelve.
"That's actually quite funny," Axel's voice interrupted my smile by making it wider.
"You're reading my thoughts again," I grinned.
"No, I'm reading your T-shirt," his almost-there smile stayed on his face, instead of disappearing like it normally did. I looked down at my completely plain green top. "The one blocking your mind, Tilly."
"You taught me how to make a barrier," I realised.
"No, you did it yourself. You could've just thought of the T-shirt and it would've been jumbled up in all your other thoughts. But instead it went right to the front and blocked them all. Nothing to do with me."
"But… sometimes I fail to understand you, Axel," I shook my head.
"Hmm, but you're still thinking about Toni and Ewan and what they were talking about," he shifted me onto his lap before I could groan. "You didn't block everything. Not the stuff I already knew."
"Do you always have to-?"
"Yes, I do. I wish I didn't, but I do." He said, smile fading.
"We don't keep secrets from them," I answered and leaned back into him. I took a piece of his hair and twisted it around my finger.
He was silent for a while, and then after a few minutes, asked, "Don't we?"
I knew exactly what he was referring to. Last summer, Ewan and Antonia had gone home while Axel and I had stayed at school. Just after Ewan left, I had discovered that he'd left his mobile phone in the library, and that the librarian had found it. To be helpful, I told her that I knew who the phone belonged to and she gave it to me. Later that day, Toni told me that Ewan had used his house phone to call her, asking if he'd left his mobile at school. I told her the truth and she said that I should look after it 'cause she'd just end up losing it, and she told me to text Ewan if he got any messages or calls. A few weeks later, Ewan did get a text from an unrecognised number. I can't remember exactly what it said, but it yelled one thing loud and clear. Ewan was cheating on Antonia. I did the first thing I could and showed Axel. He told Ewan that he'd got a text, and assured him that no-one had read it. Then he marked the text as unread and we've kept it quiet ever since.
Ewan doesn't know that we know, and Toni doesn't know anything about it.
"We can't tell them," I muttered. "It would hurt Toni and Ewan would hate us."
"But don't you think Toni deserves to know?"
"Yes, of course she does," I said.
"And that's my point," Axel explained. "We're keeping a huge secret from them. What they're keeping from us is almost certainly a hell of a lot smaller. And they might not even be keeping it from us deliberately." He turned me around to face him. "We don't have to know everything they talk about."
"All right. I'm sorry," I whispered. I leaned in to kiss him and he pushed his lips gently to mine.
"I love you," he told me quietly."I love you," I echoed, smiling.