The entire Harry Potter series is great, so I didn't mind in the slightest that we were stuck in an overcrowded common room. And even though I didn't think that number six was the best of all of them, I had Tilly, who would do her best to keep cheery all the way through it. I noticed that the less self-conscious couples weren't paying attention at all. They were just kissing and laughing. Steven, as I now knew the Summoner was called, put a quieting spell around the back of the room.
Toni and Ewan normally got all mushy and lovey-dovey during films – especially Harry Potter because they'd both over-watched them and could probably recite the entire script of the Chamber of Secrets - but when I looked over at them about half an hour into it I saw that Antonia had fallen asleep against Ewan's chest, her hair falling over her shoulders and face. Ewan had his eyes closed, but his thought barriers were still up so I knew he was awake. The fact that I could almost get through the barriers told me that he was close to falling asleep, though. One of his hands was linked with hers and he had his other arm around her waist.
"It's kinda cute, isn't it?" Tilly whispered to me.
"Hmm," I answered.
Tilly thought, If only it was real…
"Your barriers are down," I informed her quietly. She closed her eyes for a second and then I was greeted with the phrase My face is up there.
"No they're not."
"They were," I smiled briefly. Tilly took my hand and started tracing the creases on my palm. She ran her finger over the tops of my nails. "You know, for now it's as real as Toni wants it to be," I sighed.
"No, it's as real as it is," she said simply. "And that's not very real at all."
"Looks real enough to me," I said.
"But it's not, though," she told me.
"It is if Toni thinks it is. It's not like either of us is planning on telling her any time soon," I pointed out.
"It was your idea not to tell her," she countered.
"So you want to?" I quizzed.
Tilly gave up and went back to tracing my palm. I went back to watching Harry Potter, where Harry had just attacked Malfoy with a spell from the half-blood prince's diary.
Ewan was now asleep and was dreaming of Antonia: a moment when she was laughing and happy. Her hair was shorter and thinner in this scene so it must have been a while ago, and she kept fluffing it out absently. She wore the same shirt she was wearing today, but with three-quarters instead of a skirt. Every now and then she would look down and her smile would fade slightly, but then she'd laugh again and look up, eyes sparkling.
This was before she was with Ewan. She looked about thirteen, maybe just fourteen. If I remember rightly, Ewan had asked her out three days after this memory.
Ewan's dreams were always memories, never just a random blur of impossible stuff, as Toni's were. She dreamed that we were all on a small rowing boat in the middle of an imaginary lake. We were all singing Abba's I Have a Dream. Suddenly, the boat capsized and we all splashed into the water, only we fell through it and towards a huge pit filled with broken glass. Matilda screamed just before we hit the bottom.
Toni stirred then, as the dream was cut off. Her eyes flickered and she shifted a bit, then she settled again. The dream reappeared on a scene where we were all in a café eating scones. The Abba music was on in the background and next to our table was a bucket filled with broken glass.
Antonia's dreams were always about us four, and rarely involved anyone else.
Tilly's barriers were down again, and her background focus was the film we were watching. A light concentration was put into tracing the lines on my palm, but her main thought pattern was on Anthony. Worrying about him and thinking about how she would be staying here this Easter. She'd never stayed at Andelle during a holiday before, and she was glad that I would be here with her because she thought it would be awkward otherwise. Her thoughts slowly meshed into a random display of memories and past dreams, and she was on the brink of sleep. I stroked the back of her hand with my thumb, but she stopped me by reaching over and pushing her fingers through mine.
You need to cut your nails, she thought deliberately. I smiled a little as she let out a long breath.
Steven moved over to us and knelt in front of the sofa.
"Axel, you've got to go," he whispered to me. I blinked, confused for a second.
"Oh, yeah, that thing," I groaned when I realised that he meant pastoral care. Um, about that. Last year I got all depressed like an idiot just because Tilly wasn't ready to go out with me yet. But it was, like, more depressed than I normally am. She got really worried and went straight to the pastoral manager for lack of something better to do. I must admit, it did help, but when I got over it the pastoral manager said I still had to go for another two months just to be sure. So I still had six weeks of those four months left and it gets irritating.
I nudged Tilly. "Tilly, honey, I've got to go," I muttered.
"Hmm?" she moved a bit and her thoughts started to arrange themselves properly.
"I've got to go," I repeated.
"Oh, ok, be back soon," she smiled.
"I'll try my best," I smiled back.
As I walked down the corridor to that dreaded office, my mood gradually went downhill to the point where I wondered why I even bothered getting up this morning. Outside the door, I considered whether it was worth turning around and going back to watch the film with Tilly, but then the door opened so I had no choice.
"You are forgetting that I also have a special gift for hearing the thoughts of others," Miss Prindle said, her smile patronizing as ever. I walked in silently and sat on the blue plastic chair in front of her cluttered desk. When I didn't say anything, she asked, "So, how are you today?"
"Fine, thanks," I responded automatically. "How're you?"
"I'm all right. Are you sure you're OK?"
"Positive," I confirmed as calmly as I could. "In fact, I'm so fine that I think I should go back to Tilly because she's waiting for me and I was happier when I was with her."
"So you're still together then?"
"Yes, as we have been for the last six months," I informed her. "Why, do you keep expecting her to break up with me or something?"
"No, I was simply curious," she said, giving me that fake smile that showed so plainly that she didn't really care. "There is something bothering you, what is it?"
"Nothing to do with you."
"Actually, it is very much to do with me. When will you start trusting me like you did before and stop talking to me like that?"
"When you start talking to me like I'm a normal human being," I said. Then I added, "Like you did before."
"Well, we can both play at that game," she raised an eyebrow. "I'll just call for Matilda and she can tell me." she picked up the phone on her desk and started dialling. "Yes, hello, I'm looking for-"
"No, don't do that!" I exclaimed, interrupting the holier-than-thou teacher. "She's already worried enough as it is."
"I'm so sorry; it seems I've made a mistake. I won't be needing anything right now." She put the phone down. "So, that's what's bothering you? That Matilda is worried?"
"Partially. Why do you care?"
She did that little ah-huh laugh that people do when they think they're better than you and said, "Because I have to."
I grinded my teeth together.
"Anyway," she continued. "Miss Anten left me a list of questions I'm supposed to ask you but I really can't be bothered so just answer them and take I to her at break, yeah?" She slid an unused notepad across the table. "Keep it."
I snatched it away and stalked out, kissing my teeth. I that girl irritated almost as much as Gillian Mckeith, and that is a damn lot of irritation to put up with.
To calm myself down, I started thinking about my answers the headmistress's questions.
How are you? Oh, y'know, great, as ever. How is Matilda? Well, she could be better. How are Ewan and Antonia? Couldn't be happier. How's your relationship going? It's great, actually, considering that at first she only went out with me so wouldn't be so depressed. Are you happier with her than you were before she was with you? Yes, definitely. Much happier. She won't let me be depressed for long. Do you care about her? Yeah, a lot.
All the questions were like that, focused on my relationship with Tilly and stuff like that.
Back in the Blue Common, I noticed that Ewan had woken up and he was absently stroking Toni's hair.
"You were gone a while, Dumbledore's just about to die," Tilly smiled, using the fact that this part of the film was about half an hour after the part it was on when I'd left.
"I took a detour and went the long way," I told her. She gave me a questioning look. "I needed to calm down. The pastoral manager peed me off."
"Oh," she nodded in understanding. "You know I could just go talk to her."
"Nah, that'd be letting her win. Besides, I'm going to tell Miss Anten when I give her this sheet at break."
"What do you mean 'letting her win'?"
"Long story," I said. She rolled her eyes. I reached over and tapped Ewan's arm. He looked at me dazedly, which told me that he hadn't been awake for that long. "Film's nearly over. Wake Toni up."
"S'all right," she mumbled. "I'm not asleep." She yawned and stretched and then yawned again. "I needed that."
We all laughed quietly.Steven turned the lights on and Tilly screwed up her eyes, not expecting the sudden brightness. Conversations immediately started up, filling the room with the sound of chatter. Steven told us our next lesson, which happened to be emotion reading. Secretly, I was glad Ewan would be there to help (but, of course, he already knew that) because the others in the class whose token was emotion reading were generally not very helpful. Tilly and Toni knew a few of the girls there but that was about it.