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Viola ends up transferring to Illyria under her real name.

Olivia knows this because she sees her sometimes in the halfway, walking by, tucked under Duke's arm or jogging along besides him, usually laughing. It makes sense- Viola's finally first-string on a team that appreciates her, plus she gets to play alongside her boyfriend.

Olivia always waves hello as they pass, shifting her books aside. Sometimes Viola just waves back and keeps walking, but sometimes she'll bounce up with a million questions, talking until she's out of breath- are you coming to the game on Saturday, what'd you get for 3C on the lab report, how's Sebastian.

Sebastian's good. They went out to dinner last night. He told her about London, then read her some more lyrics, grinning as she nodded and smiled. The songs don't sound as sincere as they did in Viola's higher, softer voice. He dropped her at her car, afterwards, leaning in confidently for a kiss, and she had side-stepped him with a painted-on smile and shut the driver side door.

She doesn't know him, and he's not who she fell in love with, and she doesn't want to go on double dates with Duke and Viola until their joint wedding where they'll wear matching dresses and smile at each other from across the room. She doesn't want a replacement, a second-place consolation prize.

She wants Sebastian, the boy Viola apparently whipped up out of thin air.

 

 

The real Sebastian gets the picture, and doesn't seem to hold a grudge. Besides, Olivia's pretty sure he wants to get back with Monique, by the way he holds in a smile every time she storms by him in a huff.

Jake, one of the local students who doesn't board at Illyria, throws a party on the third Friday of every month. Olivia's never sure where he gets the booze or why his parents are never home, but they struck a bargain in sophomore year biology class- she brings a couple bags of chips in exchange for homemade margaritas.

Olivia ditches the grocery bags in the kitchen and wanders out towards the living room. Sounds like Jake's trying to do handstands again, by the sound of cheering and crashing.

He is, but there's other people there too. Viola and Duke are holding hands where they're sitting close on a couch, his hand spread wide over her bare knee, ignoring the pounding music and the overheated crowd filling the house.

Olivia makes small-talk for a few minutes, but she can tell she's bad company. It's just- she's never seen Viola and Duke interact like that, like a couple instead of teammates and pals. Viola's tanktop is low-cut but simple, with understated lace over the curve of her breasts, and she's laughing lower and quieter than usual.

Olivia's kind of thirsty, actually.

"Hey," Viola says, catching up with her on the way back to the kitchen. "Saw you book it out of there- something up?"

"No," says Olivia. "I'm fine. Just tired, I think."

"Yeah, long fucking day, right? I thought that bio lab would never end." Viola wets a paper towel and starts dabbing water on her jeans. "Eunice spilled a beer on me, soon as you left the room." Viola sighs.

"Yikes," says Olivia. "Were they expensive?"

"What, my pants?" says Viola, "I think I got these from a yard sale."

"I love yard sales!" says Olivia, and then blushes at the way she's talking slightly too loudly. It's just good to be able to talk to her again, over the weird distance that settled once Viola and Sebastian did their big reveal. She's missed the person who had become her best friend, the guy who had made her effortlessly comfortable, who had smiled and laughed and never looked away while she talked.

"Oh, yeah?" Viola's still scrubbing.

"I got a lamp once," Olivia says. "It has this dragon curled around-"

"WOOOOOOO!" says Eunice, jogging towards them. She's got a beer in each hand and one of her shoes is missing. Even her headgear looks crooked. She stops abruptly, sloshing more beer onto Viola's jeans.

"Oh, hey Viola," she says breathily, swaying slightly.

"Hey, Eunice," Viola gently tugs the cans away, passing them off to Olivia with an apologetic eye-roll. "Why don't we go outside and get some fresh air?"

"Sure," Eunice says loyally. Olivia's pretty sure she's not the only girl at Illyria still waiting for Sebastian to reappear and sweep her off her feet, judging by the way Eunice is draped over Viola's shoulders.

Olivia looks down at her hands when she realizes she's still holding Eunice's beers, weighing her options.

The sound of vomiting comes in through the open window, drowning out Viola's soothing nonsense.

"Fuck it," Olivia says to herself, and starts chugging.

She's pleasantly buzzed by the time Viola comes back, and that's probably what makes her agree when Viola locks a hand around her wrist and starts pulling. Olivia tries to focus.

"Eunice- she's-"

"Yeah, she's fine," Viola says, "sleeping it off. C'mon. Did you know there's a pool out back?"

Olivia's not one hundred percent sober, but she's been to parties here before and she's pretty sure there's no pool.

"Hah," she says to herself when they get outside. There's half an acre of trees, but no visible water.

"No, come on, this way," Viola's hand is just slightly damp with exertion, her hair tied back loosely with what looks like a rubber band. It turns out there is a pool- it's just three houses down and belongs to the Freemans, according to the sign on the mailbox.

Olivia's kind of distracted trying to peer in the windows of the house- what if the owners are home? Oh man, what if they get caught- when Viola sneaks up behind her and starting pushing.

"In we go!" Viola says cheerfully, nudging her towards the water.

"But I'm not wearing a bathing suit!" Olivia yelps, backpedaling against the pressure.

"Don't blame me that you didn't come prepared," Viola says, and puts two warm hands on her lower back and shoves. Olivia goes in flailing, her sundress wrapping around her legs as she kicks back up to fresh air. She pushes her dripping hair back out of her eyes, and when she opens them again, Viola's stepping out of her shorts and stripping off her tanktop.

There's a weird silence, just the lapping of the water and faint laughter from the party. Viola's panties and bra don't match- a triangle of navy blue between her legs, a green striped bra. She doesn't take long to undress before she dives in, smoother than Olivia's clumsy entrance.

"Freaking freezing in here," Viola says when she surfaces.

Olivia laughs and lies back to float while Viola starts doing slow, easy laps.

She drifts lazily, looking up at the sky. The sudden sloshing to her left turns out to be Viola, who swims to the edge, leans over to the pile of clothes and pulls out a half-empty handle of vodka that Olivia hadn't seen on the way over. A little more rummaging produces a single shot glass.

"Viola," Olivia drags out her name, enjoying the way the vowels roll over her tongue, and paddles over absently.

"Don't play shocked," Viola says, pouring out a shot on the cement tiles surrounding the pool. Olivia laughs as it sloshes over the sides, but Viola's focused too intently on pouring to notice. "Here- yeah, there you go."

Olivia shakes her head at the burn in her throat while Viola tosses one back, then another.

"We should do this more often," Viola says.

"What," asks Olivia, closing her eyes and letting her head bump gently back against the edge of the pool, "Break and enter?"

"Hang out, the two of us." Viola sounds closer, but Olivia's eyelids are too heavy to open right now. "I feel like we haven't, you know, since-"

"Yeah," says Olivia. She turns around, drips all over the cement when she pours herself another shot, almost drops the slippery bottle. She's looking around for the cap to the bottle, and that's probably what distracts her enough that she drops the shot glass. Olivia's kind of out of it, she thinks, watching the glass sink until it disappears to the bottom.

"I'll get it," Viola says, right as Olivia starts to dive under. Olivia blinks away the burn of chlorine against her eyes, holding her breath as she peers around for the glass. She spots the slight shimmer of glass and reaches for it just as a tan hand wraps around, and Olivia jerks in surprise. The hush of the water is heavy in her ears as she looks up at Viola, whose hair is no longer tangled around her shoulders- it spreads out underwater, making Viola look wild and unpredictable. For a second, Olivia can't breathe and it's not just the cool water.

They hold like that for a moment, fingers entwined over the glass, before Olivia's lungs start to hurt and she has to kick up, surfacing with a gasp for air.

 

 

They don't talk for a week after, back to their old pattern of waving in the hallways as they pass.

They had both surfaced, and then Viola had climbed out of the pool, dripping all over the tiles, yanking on her clothes over her soaking bra and panties. Olivia had looked away, trying to straighten out her wet dress. They had gone back to the party, and Viola had left ten minutes later with Duke, hair still drenched.

Olivia feels like they're on hold, waiting for the bombshell to fall, sitting on the line listening to terrible muzak, standing at the train station but not getting on board. They don't talk, but the rest of the school does, and by the end of the week the word's been spread around that Duke and Viola are no longer an item.

Olivia sees the strain there too, before she escapes the cafeteria at lunch. They're still sitting together with their little group of friends- where Olivia usually sits, before this week of silence- but there's a inch of distance that seems almost tangible. They smile at each other, but there's a new strain around their eyes, like they have to find their way back to friendship, and it might take a while.

No one seems to know why, though Olivia never comes out and asks anyone. She just listens in, quiet and waiting.

 

 

There's another fair that weekend, to raise funds for prom. Olivia's found the only way to get out of this is to hide from all the overbearing mothers and avoid conflict at all costs. She and all the other debutantes are supposedly obligated to help out for the rest of the year, until the next set of girls come up. Instead, Olivia's ducked behind one of the farther tents and is trying to figure out the best way to sneak out and call a cab back to school.

"Hey," says Viola, and Olivia jumps and drops her phone. "Sorry, didn't mean to sneak up on you."

"No problem." There's a minute of silence while Olivia wipes the phone against her jacket.

"So you and Sebastian didn't-" Viola says, and it's only half a question.

"Didn't work out," Olivia says, keeping her tone bland.

"Yeah, me and Duke neither," Viola scuffs at the ground.

Olivia keeps quiet, letting her talk.

"I guess you probably heard. But, you know, it was like he could only see me as one or the other," Viola says, tugging at a hole in the knee of her jeans, "Someone he could confide in, or his girlfriend. His teammate, or the girl who sucks his- holds his hand," Viola hastily corrects.

"Oh," says Olivia, stupidly. She folds her hands in her lap.

"It was frustrating," Viola snaps, not meanly, watching the Ferris wheel turn in the distance.

Olivia clears her throat, and Viola turns to look right at her. Olivia looks away. "Well, it might be hard to- to remember that you're the same person."

It feels like Viola is staring at her, even as Olivia keeps her eyes deliberately on the dirt smudging the tips of her boots. Kids are shrieking and probably getting in fights just on the other side of the tent, but here, there's a weird kind of silence.

"You don't-" Viola starts, and then she cuts herself off. It's strange to hear Viola considering her words, not jumping ahead in leaps and bounds, not acting now and dealing with the consequences later.

Olivia lets the moment drag on a few seconds longer, hoping- but Viola just stands up straight, brushing imaginary dust off her jeans. Olivia stands too, and her last few tickets slip from her jacket pocket. Viola scoops them up before Olivia can reach down.

"More tickets, huh?" Viola says, grinning again. "What are you gonna use them on? Kissing booth?" she asks, laughing.

"God, no," Olivia's smiling too, thinking about the way Justin had leaped onto Duke's back and started throwing punches. Remembering walking away from the booth, grateful to her rescuer for the chance to grab some mints- and definitely some mouthwash- and admiring the girl's red dress, bold in a way Olivia's never been.

"My first kiss with Duke," says Viola, looking down at the tickets crumpled in her hand. "And hey, the first time you saw me with boobs."

"Yeah," says Olivia.

Viola futilely tries to smooth out the tickets, holding them against her thigh and pressing. "You should take these," she blurts out.

"Right." Olivia puts them in her pocket again, and starts to walk away. Her lips are chapping in the wind- it's pretty much as cold out today as it gets here.

"Hey!" Viola yells. "I'll trade you for one."

Olivia turns around again, her hands in her jacket pockets, and waits while Viola catches up.

"I want- I think I'm going to go on the Ferris wheel again," Viola says. "Trade me a ticket."

"Here," says Olivia, tearing one off and holding it out. "You don't have to trade."

"No." Viola pushes her hair away from her face and continues, earnestly, "I'll give you something. For a ticket. It's only fair."

Olivia waits. She's breathing a little too hard, just standing there behind the tent.

"Like a kissing booth," Viola stammers. "You give me a ticket, and I'll trade you a kiss. Like the booth- you know, you did it, we just talked about- like we did at the debutante fair-"

Olivia shuts her up with a hand on her wrist, stepping in, not giving Viola time to back away- though Viola's not going anywhere, judging by the way she angles in to slam their mouths together, impatient and impulsive. They're pressed together tight enough that Olivia feels like she can't get out a breath, touching at hips, toes, breasts, full lips sticky from Olivia's gloss and Viola's mint lip balm.

For all that Olivia had decided to win Sebastian, she hadn't imagined kissing him like this- not like the way Viola's got one hand cupped around the curve of her waist and the other wandering her back, not like anyone in the world could pass by and watch and it couldn't stop them from kissing. It takes a while before Olivia can force herself to pull back, and then there's a few attempts ruined by the way Viola had just followed her mouth, stroking at her face with a careful thumb.

Olivia breaks the spell eventually, putting enough distance between them to remind herself that they should go somewhere else. Viola, slouching against the tent pole, kneels down to recover the tickets from where they had dropped.

"Technically, I don't think you're supposed to reuse these tickets," Olivia says, trying to resist the urge to lean back in and bite at Viola's lower lip. She fails. "I'd feel unethical letting you have them."

"But I paid!" Viola tries to say around another kiss, lips and tongues and teeth impeding her protest.

"I'm sure there's some way I can reimburse you," Olivia says, and links a warm hand in Viola's to help her to her feet. "Pizza? Free tutoring? Something else, maybe?"

"Let's go to your place and talk about it," Viola says. "I have a few ideas-"

Olivia cuts her off, kissing her way into Viola's mouth and pulling her forward by the smooth curve of her hips, one hand tangled in Viola's hair, wrapping strands around her fingers. "Yeah," Olivia says, "let's go."