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PENELOPE

The movie that Agatha put on isn’t very interesting. I think it’s meant to be a comedy, but I’m not paying enough attention to it to tell. I’m not even sure what the plot is. I think I could generally describe it just by saying, ‘American highschool rom-com.’

Agatha’s painting her nails; there’s a draft in the room from the window she opened to let the fumes out. She’s doing them a lovely lilac color, one that I personally enjoy, but something about her using it bothers me. 

She loves cute, light colors, like purple and mint green. Pink is her worst habit. Practically everything she owns is pink, her bedspread, her backpack, her toothbrush (I saw it last night when we were getting ready for bed. I can’t imagine picking out something like a toothbrush just because of the color.) She even has a shirt that says On Wednesdays, we wear pink , which I know is a reference to something but I don’t really care to remember. 

It’s not that I have a problem with the color pink. Most feminists have renounced the color, just to seem less ‘girly’, but I don’t mind it. I think that women should have the right to reclaim pink, it’s a perfectly fine color. It doesn’t necessarily have to correspond with being feminine. But I have a sneaking suspicion that Agatha likes pink and light colors specifically to seem girly and feminine. It drives me a bit mad to be honest.

I’ve resorted to playing puzzle games on my mobile to pass the time. That’s another thing about Agatha that irritates me. She can’t keep up an interesting conversation half the time, unless it’s about something crucial. She’s like Simon in that she doesn’t think about it, she doesn’t think it’s a necessity. How boring it must be to be her. 

I’ll talk about what I know best, then. 

 “So have you talked to Simon since break started?” 

Agatha looks up from her nails when I speak, eyebrows raised. Her face melds to boredom almost immediately after I finish my sentence. 

“Oh. No.” she says. Her focus is back on her right ring finger. 

I huff. “Not at all? I thought you two were supposed to be dating.”

I say it only half jokingly. I’m never sure how close their relationship actually is, they don’t seem to have much in common or a lot of chemistry. (I still think Simon was way in over his head in asking her out in the first place.)

“We are,” Agatha says, defensively. She’s frowning at me, the glow of the TV turning the side of her face blue and highlighting her facial muscles. “We just don’t talk much during breaks. That’s all.”

“You don’t even send him letters? I do that at least once a month over the summer.” I’ve gone back to looking at my phone. 

Agatha scoffs overdramatically. “Maybe you should be the one dating him, if you two are so close.”

I roll my eyes. If I had a pound for every time someone suggested that.

“For the millionth time. Simon and I just aren’t like that,” I state. I’m proper annoyed now. She’s like a broken record with that accusation. “He’s like my brother, I can’t even think of him like that. And even if I did like him, Crowley forbid, he’s with you and I respect that. There is literally no reason for you to get jealous over our friendship.”

Agatha goes silent. I don’t bother looking up at her, I don’t really care what her reaction is. We have had this conversation so many times before. 

It’s another few seconds before she finally responds. 

“I don’t even know if I want to be with him anymore.”

That prompts me to look up. “What?”



AGATHA

Penny’s just staring at me with a blank expression. It’s making me stress; I don’t know why I’ve told her this. The way she described her relationship with Simon just felt a little too familiar. Too much like my own. 

“What?” She sounds disbelieving. 

I give a distressed sigh involuntarily. “Don’t make me say it again, Penelope.”

She blinks once, then twice. I think her brain is having a hard time wrapping around the fact that I just told her something like that. Crowley, why did I tell her that?

Penny and I have never been best friends. We had never spoken the first time Simon formally introduced me as his girlfriend. I’d just thought of her as the weird brainiac loner who hung around the Chosen One because she had nowhere else to go (I’d also not been wrong.) The two of us just never got close; the only thing we have in common is being the girl side-kicks. 

“Just--” Penny says. She has a hard time starting again. “Just. Explain it to me before I make any comments. Go through your reasoning.”

That’s just like Penelope, to think only of the reasoning . How do I reason with emotions?

“I don’t know,” I admit. “There’s not much to say. I just, I don’t know. I don’t know if I want to be with him anymore.”

“But why? There has to be some causation for this.”

“I mean, I don’t know,” I repeat for the hundredth time. “I guess him being the Chosen One can be a bit much, yeah?”

Penny shrugs. I continue.

“I feel like the Chosen One’s trophy, or something. Everyone just knows me as Simon’s pretty girlfriend, and it drives me crazy.  How am I expected to make or have my own reputation when that one’s already there for me? And I can't tell anyone, I'm so used to keeping everything to myself. It’s so, ugh, it’s. It’s suffocating.” 

I throw all my words out before considering how much to keep to myself. I don’t know if I’ve ever expressed those thoughts out loud before. 

Penny stares again for a moment. The silence makes my skin crawl. 

“Is that it?”

My head flashes through the past couple of months, to how confused I’ve been. The stares from across the halls. The looks of wanting I receive when I hold hands with Simon. The dreams that have haunted my sleep, visions of a tall figure holding me in his arms. 

I take a deep breath. “You can’t tell Simon any of this.” I say. I don’t know what I would do if he found out about my secrets before I had the chance to tell him myself.

Penny nods. “He’s my best friend, but it’s not my place to tell him your business.”

I don’t completely trust her. She would do anything to keep Simon safe. But I’m in too deep. If I don’t tell her anything now, I’ll never hear the end of it. 

The only way I can think to explain is to just come out and say it. “There might be someone else.”

Penny’s eyebrows jump up. “Who? What do you mean, might be?”

Her curiosity will be the end of me. “Please, just let me explain before you assault me with questions. There’s, well. There’s a bloke at Watford, we’ll just say. I’ve had the suspicion for a while that he fancies me. I just found it flattering at first, but I wasn’t going to do anything about it.” I pause to attempt to gauge Penny’s reaction, but she just motions for me to keep going. “But, I don’t know, something just happened, and I find myself a lot more interested in him.”

Penny waits a second until she knows I’m done. Then she starts the interview.

“Who is it? Do I know him?”

My mind reminds me. Grey eyes. Dark hair. The look of jealousy and wanting directed at me and Simon when he thinks I’m not looking. His mysterious ways. I want to know him, I want to know more. 

“It doesn’t matter who he is,” I say. “I’m not going to act on anything. I don’t want to hurt Simon.”

Penny squints at me like she doesn’t believe me. “You said you started liking this ‘bloke’ after already thinking he liked you? How do you know your brain isn’t just into the attention that you think your getting? It’s a fairly common thing.”

“I don’t think my brain is just making feelings up, Penelope.” I snap at her.

“Okay, okay,” she gripes, but she gives me a look of pity. “I want to give you my opinion, if I may, Agatha. I, for one, don’t think that you should break up with Simon just because of some resenting feelings towards reputation, or some mystery guy. I think these are both temporary or not very important emotions, and that you shouldn’t do something as rash as breaking up with your boyfriend. He’s also my friend, and I don’t want to see him get hurt. Or you, for that matter.”

I nod. She’s probably right about the decision, but I don’t know about the temporary emotions thing. 

Penny continues. “Just think a little bit more before you choose what to do, but just know that that’s my opinion.”

I feel like there’s more to this conversation that I could push open, but I’m tired of serious talk. It’s too much for me right now. I don’t want to probe this discussion any further; I fear my decision might change.

So I nod and smile at her. Keeping my thoughts to myself is what I do best. “Thanks, Penny.”