"And I just can't tell her. I just can't," Antonia sighed after telling me what she'd seen in her most recent vision. I took a strand of her waist-length hair and began to tie it into a loose plait.
"I wouldn't be able to either," I agreed as she flattened out her white cotton skirt. Her outfit today was pretty plain. Just a grey T-shirt with the word Smile written across it in yellow letters, her white, knee-length skirt and black ballet pumps. She'd not bothered with a hairdo today, so her ebony curls fell around her in a slight mess which she'd tamed with water. She had a yellow bow clipped into it at one side.
"Yeah, but she already knows I'm keeping something from her. I know - I saw the way her face looked after I put the letter in my pocket." She started plaiting a different strand of hair.
"Well she can go on knowing," I said. "We're allowed to have our privacy."
"I know." She looked around the room. We were in the Blue Common, which, incredibly, was completely blue. Everyone else in there was chatting absently about stuff that didn't really matter. "What did it say on your letter?" She asked, undoubtedly to change the subject.
"Oh, mum asked me what I wanted her to get Michael for his birthday as a present from me," I told her. "And my cousin invited us to her house at Easter 'cause she really wants to meet you."
Toni grinned. "What have you told her about me?"
"Umm… well, she quizzed me, so quite a lot I'd say."
"Go on then," Toni encouraged.
I sighed. "Favourite colour, orange. Favourite food, ice cream. Favourite girls' and boys' name, Elizabeth and George. Favourite band, Take That. Favourite person, moi." She giggled and I smiled.
"That'll do," she said, and then whispered, "I love you."
"I love you more," I whispered back.
"Don't lie," she muttered and kissed me softly. The way she looked at me made me think about how upset she would be if she ever found out my secret. I thanked the heavens that Matilda and Axel didn't read that text last summer.
"I need your help," I told her.
"With what?" she asked.
"My homework. I can see into the past easily but seeing into the future is an impossibility."
"No it's not," she smiled. "You just have to practice."
"You don't," I pointed out.
"OK, so maybe I don't. But that's because it's my Token. It comes naturally to me. What's your problem with it?"
"I can't do it the same way as seeing the past."
Antonia rolled her eyes. "That's because you don't do it the same way as seeing the past. Try it like this, close your eyes."
I did as she said and I felt her putting her head against my chest. She told me that she did this so she could listen to my heartbeat. I wrapped my arms around her.
"OK, so now think of a specific future you want to see. Like, to do with a person or a lesson or something like that."
"Kay," I thought of her because I was most connected with the things she did and said. Having her there telling me what to do really helped. Instead of seeing nothing, as I normally did, I saw the canteen. It was focused on one of the tables near the far end, furthest away from the door. There were two people sitting opposite each other. I couldn't see them properly because the picture was dark. Not like there being no flash on a camera, like it was dark in the scene itself. I could tell the person on the left was Toni because of the tangled mess of hair around her. I thought that the person on the right might have been Mil because they were quite small and had short hair. Toni held a mug, probably filled with hot chocolate, and they were both wearing pyjamas. They talked in barely audible whispers as if they were sharing secrets. It was hard to make out what they were saying.
The vision was interrupted by a twinge of sadness that wasn't mine. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter before opening them.
"You get distracted too easily," she said. "You were only watching for about five seconds."
"Really? It felt like about five minutes."
"Yeah, that happens," her voice was all quiet and scratchy.
"Are you crying?" I asked, worried. I felt her shake her head, so I stroked her cheek to find it was wet. "Yes you are," I said quietly. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing," her voice was even quieter than before. I shifted her so that I could see her face. There were tears falling lightly from her eyes.
"Oh, Toni. You know you're never going to get away with pretending you're fine when you're not if I'm asking." I shook my head. "Come on, what's up?"
"Doesn't matter," she said. "Really."
"Forget about it," she insisted, wiping her eyes.
"Toni, what you're feeling is making me want to cry," I told her truthfully. She sighed.
"OK. I was thinking about how sad Mil's going to be when she finds out. And I met Anthony the first summer after being Summoned and he's so nice and it'd be so bad if my vision came true!" she was sobbing by the end of it so I took her into my arms and gave her a squeeze. We sat there while I stoked her hair for a bit, and then the Summoner, Tinsley, was leaning against the wall opposite us.
"Is she all right?" he asked, sounding concerned.
"She's fine," I assured him.
"I'm fine," she nodded, turning to face him and wiping her eyes. "Hi, Bankley."
"Hi, Antonia. What's wrong?"
"Another bad vision," she said, laughing a little.
"Again? I swear you're gonna predict when the world ends," he grinned.
"Twenty-Twelve," Toni joked. We all laughed.
"Tinsley, why did you tell us all a different name?" I asked the question that had been nagging at me for about two years now.
He snickered. "I was bored. And I have a different name every day otherwise I get the police on me 'cause most kids don't take it as easily as you did. I got lucky with you four."
"So what's your real name?" Toni asked, smiling.
"Steven. Nice to meet you, Antonia."
"Nice to meet you too, Steven," Toni chuckled.
Steven smiled back at her as he traced a line down the centre of his neck. When he next spoke, his voice was amplified to fill the large room. "Right, we're watching Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince so grab the good seats before the Yellow Common guys get here. The middle sofas are saved for Ewan's gang, all right?"
"Kay," they all chorused, moving to bean bags and recliners. Some people climbed into the hammocks.
Unfortunately, you cannot have a power to do with electrics like DVD so I helped Steven set up the DVD and the overhead projector while we waited for the Yellow Common to get here. It took a while 'cause after we'd worked it out we had to find the remote, and the whole room erupted with a cheer when we finally heard that famous theme tune.