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Let Her Go

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Chapter 1

It had been a month-or-so since Chloe had thrown her lips against the other woman’s in a moment of one-sided passion. A month of Chloe’s lustful stares daydreaming in Elly’s direction every time she was in sight. A month of Elly carefully treading around Chloe’s feelings, trying to pretend it wasn’t happening so she could get on with planning her wedding to Chloe’s brother, Mark. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to bring it up more, it was just that the gripping fear of losing Chloe as a friend because of this was too scary to even think of.

Today was different though, today was the day Chloe had finally moved on and started to think of other people instead of her mind yelling ‘Elly, Elly, Elly.’ She’d met somebody new. A British woman who’d relocated to Melbourne only a week ago. Chloe had met her about three years ago whilst travelling and had connection with her immediately. Now they were living in the same city Chloe was sure things could go further and she couldn’t have been more excited about it. Katherine’s hair was a similar colour to Elly’s, only longer and straighter. Thinking of it make Chloe’s face light up and goosebumps pop up on her skin. The British woman was so well-spoken, a little bit posh with heaps of elegance. Chloe was sure Katherine was out of her league but since when had that ever stopped her from trying to get what she wanted.

A knock on the Brennan’s door caused Chloe’s feet to hurry over to answer it, surprised to see none-other than Elly stood there looking back at her.

“E-Elly!” A stutter collided with her bright and shining voice. Eyes that said she was both surprised and anxious, but still excited. “Uh, Mark’s at work, didn’t he tell you?”

“Oh actually I’m here to see you. Yeah, I thought we could go dress shopping or have a nice, girly day,” suggested Elly. “Sorry, I probably should have text you in advance,” the darker-haired woman added when she saw the expression that Chloe’s face held. It was a face that still contained various expressions, disappointment, surprise and a little awkwardness.

“Soz but… I actually have somewhere to be.”

“Oh sorry, I shouldn’t have just presumed you’d be available. Are you doing anything nice?”

“Actually I have a date. Her name’s Katherine… I met her on my travels. She’s British and she’s just moved to Melbourne so I couldn’t resist. She has the most gorgeous eyes I have ever seen. They’re like nut-brown but the colour is just-” She shut her mouth quickly, forcing herself to stop talking. “Hey, looks like I finally got over you. Told you I’d get there in the end.” When she looked back at Elly, Chloe noticed something in the corner of her eye that she hadn’t seen before. It was fine though, it was surely just disappointment that she wasn’t able to help Elly with the dress shopping. Elly obviously hadn’t expected Chloe to be busy for the first time ever.

“Oh… That’s….that’s no problem. We can just do it another day, plenty of time.” The brunette’s eyes lifted to look into Chloe’s, though she hadn’t meant for them to linger quite so long. Part of her knew she should just walk out of the door and leave with a quick ‘bye’ yet she’d instead stood in silence for a second and a half. “I guess I should go and let you get ready for your date,” Elly finally said.

“No!” Chloe objected a little too quickly. “I really need help choosing a dress for my date.” Throwing the front door shut before the other woman was able to react, Chloe grabbed Elly’s hand like an excited child and pulled her into her bedroom. On her bed laid two dressed, one red and the other black.

“Wow Chloe, they’re gorgeous,” Elly breathed out, flicking from one to the other and then looking back at Chloe. “I don’t know, it’s hard to choose.”

“I’ll try them on and then you can choose. Just…don’t mind me getting changed in front of you, isn’t like it’s not going to happen on your wedding day when we’re all rushing around anyway.” She bit down on her lip and paused for just a short, awkward moment. Sometimes she wished she was able to keep her thoughts in her mind instead of them all drowning out through her mouth. Elly nodded a little awkwardly. She tried to avoid Chloe’s feelings for her - which were apparently not there anymore - but sometimes it was difficult to differentiate between whether Chloe was just acting like a best friend or somebody who was crushing on her.

She watched as the younger woman began to get changed, though she wasn’t quite certain where to position her eyes. “I like your curtains,” she mentioned, as a distraction.

“Yeah, they’re pretty cool I guess.” Chloe pulled off her jeans and t-shirt, replacing it with a short, red dress. It was by far the shortest of the two, bright in colour and flared at the bottom. She smoothed her hands over it and gave a little twirl, full of energy. It was obvious in Chloe’s eyes how excited she was for this date. She hadn’t felt like this about anybody well…since Elly, only with Katherine it might be reciprocated. “What do you think?” she questioned, posing in the other woman’s direction. Elly’s eyes looked her up and down, a large smile growing on her face.

“I think you look very nice in it, Chloe. I think K- what was her name?”

“Katherine. Or Kate for short maybe, but I like Katherine.”

“I think Katherine will think you look beautiful in it.” Elly took a deep breath. “Actually, I think you should just go with that one. The black one might be a little much for a first date.” The older woman was probably right. It was very classy and not necessarily to Chloe’s usual style. But Katherine was classy and Chloe wanted nothing more to impress her.

“Ugh, you are a life saver!” Chloe exclaimed, leaping over to Elly and into her arms. It hadn’t meant to be a long hug, but Elly had gripped her in return and only moments later had either of them thought to release the embrace. The younger woman took a step back and let out a loud sigh. “I really appreciate it, Elly. I just really want to look my best for her because she always looks her best. Even when we’d been staying in a hostel for a week when we were travelling, she still looked like an actual Disney princess. I mean, it’s not fair really but if I can’t be her then at least I can be with her. Anyway, I’m rattling on again.” Elly coughed before nodding her head, trying to catch up with Chloe’s fast-talking.

“Chloe, you don’t have to worry about what you look like. You have the personality and the looks. Plus, you’re smart too. You’re a triple threat. She’s going to love you.” After a look into Chloe’s eyes again, Elly couldn’t help but jump forwards for another hug, quicker than the last but stronger, pulling their bodies closer. “I’m going to head off but you keep me updated. Text me as soon as you’re done, you know I’ll want all of the goss.”

“You’ll be the first one I call,” she agreed with a small laugh, waving her hand and allowing Elly to let herself out.

Chapter Text

There she stood on Elly’s doorstep with a pale face that lacked her usual energy. Chloe had waited for 30 minutes after their pre-arranged time before Katherine had text to say she couldn’t make the date. She could only be thankful that Elly was the one to answer the door and not Karl or Susan.

“Chloe,” Elly exhaled when she saw the younger woman stood in front of her. “What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be on your date?” The lighter haired woman shook her head from side to side, a miserable expression over every one of her features. Even a few tears started to smother her eyes. “Come in, I’ll make you a drink,” the older woman continued, putting her hand behind Chloe’s back to usher her in.

“Katherine couldn’t make it. She had to take her housemate to hospital.” Elly let out a sigh and grew a sympathetic expression whilst listening to Chloe’s words. “It’s stupid that I’m even crying, it isn’t her fault,” Chloe breathed out through her tears, trying to brush them away as quickly as possible. “I was just looking forward to it so much and I dunno, it was the first thing I’ve had to look forward to ever since my diagnosis. It just proves how unlucky I am. It proves that nothing will ever go right for me.”

“You still have the wedding to look forward to.” Elly paused realising that probably wasn’t the best thing to say, but she wasn’t fully aware that Chloe wasn’t looking forward to it. Chloe widened her eyes and stared at Elly as if to say ‘that’s not mine to look forward to though’. The older woman shook her head and stepped closer to Chloe, rolling her thumb under the other woman’s eye to help catch the tears. Their eyes caught hold of each other’s and Elly’s heart broke a little seeing such intense sadness in Chloe’s. “And you’ll be able to rearrange things with Katherine. It just means you still have that to look forward to.”

“Ugh, I guess you’re right. As always,” Chloe breathed out with a slight roll of her eyes. “I’m yours all day after all, lucky for you! Oh, but no wedding dress shopping. I cannot bear to think about romance for the rest of the day.”

“You’ll still get your romance with-“ Elly began, but Chloe quickly shut her down.

“Hey, I said no romance chat. Let’s just go to The Waterhole and grab a drink..or three.” She looked down at her phone, taking note of the time on it. “It’s late enough. Plus the last time I was in there I was waiting awkwardly for a date, it’ll be nice to rock up with someone by my side.” Chloe’s words were spoken in a bit of a rapid panic, as they often were.

***
“I think you should slow down on those drinks, Chloe,” Elly suggested after an hour-or-so in the bar. Her hand was placed on Chloe’s shoulder, trying to steady her. Chloe knew Elly was hardly one to talk though and screwed her face up at her sensible suggestion and instead shoved her phone in the other woman’s face.

“Look!” she roared. “That’s Katherine. I’ve been stalking her on Facebook, you know, as you do and she’s just so prettyyyy.” Elly nodded, not taking anything Chloe was saying very seriously.

“I just really think we should get you some water.”

“Elly just...just get drunk with me,” stuttered Chloe, climbing up on one of the chairs and tapping the table for Elly to sit opposite her. The fairer haired girl pushed her drink in Elly’s direction, tapping that now instead of the table.

Elly was about to give up and down the drink when a stranger appeared at the table. It took a few moments of Chloe talking nonsense before she followed Elly’s eye line and turned her head to notice the girl.

“Katherine?!” Chloe beamed, a smile brighter than any light in the room. “Oh my god.” She stood up and threw her arms around her date.

“I hoped you’d be here still,” the British woman began. “I came to apologise and to say I’m free now if you wish to reschedule. If not then I understand, I’m just sorry I wasn’t here when we planned.” That was when she realised Chloe was already drunk and sat opposite another woman. “Sorry, I’m not interrupting am I?” There was something in Elly’s eye, the same thing Chloe had noticed earlier in the day but this time it was only Katherine who noticed it. “Because I can leave if you’ve found another date.”

“WHAT?! ELLY?!” Chloe laughed, talking way too loudly. “She’s just a friend, she’s marrying my brother. That is so funny you thought that though. Nope, you’re still the one I want to date.”

“Chloe...can I uh, have a word?” Elly questioned after a deep breath, soon taking the other to one side so that they were able to speak without Katherine’s presence.

“Isn’t she beautiful?” Chloe gasped as soon as they’d moved far enough away. “And perfect. Who spends their day in hospital and then still comes to see me anyway.”

“Chloe-“

“I think I’ll take her back to mine. I don’t want anyone else round here getting their eyes on her. This girl’s mine.” Whilst she slurred, she also stumbled, almost falling to the ground.

“Chloe, you’re too drunk, do you really think now is the best time to go on a date?”

“I’m fun when I’m drunk. You don’t think I’m fun?”

“Yes...you’re very fun but what if- I don’t know Chloe, I just think I should take you home to bed. Or at least to calm down a bit, it’s only 9pm.” Chloe rolled her eyes and stomped her foot like a toddler.

“Fineeee. I’ll go and rearrange for another night.” She paused. “Do you think tomorrow’s too soon? I don’t really know how keen I want to seem, because I am really keen but do you think it’ll come off as clingey?”

“Why don’t you tell her you’ll be in touch.” Elly’s voice was soft, but Chloe wasn’t taking much notice and soon wandered off.

“Katherine, I’m so sorry but I think it’s better we do this when I’m sober,” Chloe explained, trying not to sound as drunk as she felt. “But I do really like you and I really can’t wait to spend more time with you so I’ll text you in the morning.” She could feel Elly’s eyes burning into her from a short distance but that thought was removed when she witnessed Katherine’s smile and grateful response.

Chapter Text

Elly had spent the last couple of nights with Mark at his place, something she did quite frequently. It was evening and the sun was just going down. She sat on the couch in the living room, unable to switch off her thoughts. The others seemed quite, wrapped up in their own things. Aaron was out, Chloe was glamming herself up for her date and Mark was getting ready to head out too. There had always been something about their relationship that the brunette wasn't about to put her finger on. It was pushed so far back into her mind and she didn't like to think about it. Maybe she'd never forget the blast of hurt she'd felt the moment Mark had chosen her friend, Paige over her. The tears she'd cried in private, the happy smiles she'd had to force onto her face every time she’d seen them together. There was something in the deepest, darkest corner of her mind that wondered if she was just second best, even now. Even now Paige had chosen somebody else and moved away. Would he be with her now if he could be?

Then there was Chloe. Just thinking about the woman made Elly grin from ear to ear, there was just something about her, something different. She’d felt something when she'd seen Chloe talking to Katherine, but it was a feeling she didn't understand. She didn't want to dwell over it either, Chloe was a friend and Elly had never been attracted to women before nor did she ever expect to be. Their friendship was special to her and probably one of the best things about her life right now.

Elly’s restless thoughts were forced to end when Mark stormed into the living room.

“I can’t find my shirt,” he grumbled. “You know, the white one. You must have seen it hanging up, it was in my room.” His words weren’t particularly polite.

“Oh I uh…I thought I’d give it an iron, it’s folded up right here.” Gently, she picked it up off the back of the sofa and handed it over to Mark who took it off of her and inspected it closely.

“It had already been ironed. Now it has creases. How did you iron creases into it, Elly?! I needed that for my night out with the guys.

“Well I think it looks absolutely fine.”

“It’s a mess, Elly.”

“Seriously? I do something nice for you and you have a go at me for it? That’s…that’s not normal, Mark.”

“Well I don’t have time for normal. I’m going to have to go out shopping before meeting the others just to get one that isn’t creased.”

“I could come with you…”

“No. I’ll do it myself,” he snapped before grabbing his keys and walking out the door.

It wasn’t the first argument they’d had recently and Elly knew it wouldn’t be the last. They were just so different. No matter how much she tried, he always wanted better. Things needed to be done his way. The brunette knew he was a neat-freak but she’d need a magnifying glass to find a single crease on that shirt. With a sigh, she threw herself back onto the sofa, trying to stop the inevitable tears that she could already feel in her eyes.

“Red dress – check, black heels – check, how do I look?” Chloe had spectacularly bad timing at showing her face and forced Elly to look into her direction. The younger woman twirled around with a beaming smile on her face.

Caught up in her excitement, it had taken her a moment or two to notice there was somebody in the room and it wasn’t Mark. Today was her re-arranged date with Katherine and she was just as excited as she had been the last time. “Wow, sorry. I thought Mark was in here.”

“No. No, he stormed off,” Elly cried, lifting her head to look across at the other woman. She didn’t even feel like she had to hide her sadness from Chloe. Chloe had seen her in every state possible.

“Elly? Are you okay?” Chloe had finally noticed the upsetting look on Elly’s face and ran to the couch to check on her. “What happened?” Elly wiped her own eyes and sniffed frustratedly as she looked downwards.

“It’s nothing. Just another argument with Mark. I just…I try so hard and it gets thrown back in my face all the time. I don’t know what else I can do.” Chloe looked down at her watch to look at the time. She was going to be late, but everyone else could wait. Elly was upset and that was more important than anything else in the world.

“Maybe I should rearrange the date again, I don’t want to leave you here like this.”

“Chloe, don’t be silly. You’ve been looking forward to this for so long, you can’t reschedule it because of me. I’d feel terrible.”

“Nope. Not having it. You need girly films, a new mani and some popcorn.”

“Chloe-“

“Hey, you’re not going to talk me out of this one.” Before Elly could stop her, she’d already grabbed her phone off the side and sent a text to Katherine before re-positioning herself back beside her best friend. “Mates before dates, okay? This is what best friends do for each other.”

“And you are the best friend in the whole wide world, Chloe. But you shouldn’t have done that for me, I can take care of myself.”

“What if Mark comes back here and starts telling you off again? Who’s going to look after you then if I’m not here?” She paused, but not long enough for Elly to speak. “Exactly. You need me.”

“I’m a big girl, Chloe.” Elly paused. “You’re right though, you do always know how to make me feel better.” A small smile creeped onto her lips, despite the tears that were still falling. That was the contrast between the way Mark made her feel and the way Chloe made her feel. “But I’m still not worth missing out on your date for.”

“Well it’s done now. No going back. Instead, you can tell me what got you and my brother arguing this time.” Elly sighed and passed Chloe a thankful look. The argument had been so ridiculous, it was embarrassing to even say it out loud.

“He got mad at me for ironing his shirt,” Elly announced, rolling her eyes at the thought of how stupid she sounded.

“Ironing his shirt?! My god, I know he’s a freaky clean guy but an actual argument over it?! Are you serious?!” Chloe had noticed on many occasions how badly her brother could treat Elly when he was in a mood. It wasn’t really her place to say anything so she tried her hardest to stay out of it, but it did make her angry. Elly deserved somebody who treated her like a princess. She was worth more than Mark, even though Chloe knew she couldn’t admit that out loud.

With a sigh Chloe reached out and put her hands on top of Elly’s. Usually Elly would be the one to initiate that kind of physical contact, but Chloe just felt so bad for her. “Look, Mark really loves you. And I know he has these terrible mood swings but that doesn’t mean he loves you any less. You’re his whole world. You make him smile every day, you just…you make him so happy.” Was she really talking about Mark or was she talking about herself? Mark certainly claimed to love Elly but with their whole messy history, Chloe wasn’t 100% sure.

“I know. I know he does. But it’s just messy, you know? But I do love him. I just wish things were easier.”

“Okay that’s enough. No more Mark talk for the rest of the evening. Choose a film to watch and I’ll go and look through the cupboards for some popcorn.” She sighed, her eyes pausing on Elly’s for a moment. “I really hate seeing you so upset, Elly.”

Chapter Text

Twenty-four hours had passed since the two women has last seen each other. During that time Elly had been nervously avoiding her fiancé. She wasn’t ready to speak to him yet. Every time she so much as thought of Mark, it felt like she was going to burst out of control. She loved him, maybe not loved…but he made her mind crazy with infatuation. He was the love she wanted, perhaps not the love she needed. Elly’s mind went mad when she was around him. She’d heard people say that kind of feeling wasn’t truly love, it was obsession, but how was she supposed to know when it felt so real and intense? She’d fought for him for so long and to give up on him over a couple of silly arguments would be insanity. But right now she needed her space, she didn’t want him to see her tears. He didn’t deserve to see her tears.

Chloe had been having a happier day. She’d finally managed to have her date with Katherine and had spent every moment staring into the British girl’s dark, brown eyes. And laughing. There had been a lot of laughing, but most of that was just Chloe being her awkward-self. There was nothing to say that their personalities meshed well yet, but Chloe was blown away by how perfect the other woman looked every single day. Perhaps she was a distraction; a rebound from Elly, but she was one Chloe was beginning to see a future with. Elly aside, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this attracted to anybody.

The evening was almost upon them. The sun was just starting to go down and everybody around them was starting to go out for a drink or two. That was why Chloe had arranged her date earlier. She wanted it to be peaceful before all the drunk people turned up and were so loud she wouldn’t be able to hear Katherine’s gorgeous accent.
Elly was walking by when she saw Chloe saying goodbye to her date. She waited by a hedge, not wanting to turn up and get in the way. Her eyes stared intently at the two women, trying to make out what they were saying but she waited until Katherine had strolled happily away before she rushed to greet her best friend.

“Hey! Chlo,” she shouted over, speeding up in her heels to get to her. “How was your date?” Elly questioned with a large, sparkling smile. The same smile she wore on her face every time she saw Chloe.

“Elly!” Chloe beamed. “Yeah, it was good. Really good actually.”

“Well would you like to grab a hot chocolate and go for a walk? You can tell me all about it. Oh, and my treat for making you miss your date yesterday.”

“Yeah. Why not!”

With smiles on both faces, the two women grabbed a hot chocolate and headed up to the top of a hill where they settled down on a bench. Spending time outside with Chloe was one of Elly’s favourite things to do. The two friends never ever ran out of things to talk about. Pink and orange hues covered the sky more and more by the minute. It was Chloe’s favourite time of the day, she loved colour. Seeing the shades mix around in the sky, constantly changing colour. She wished she could stay in the moment forever. Her eyes gazed at the colours like a child with their presents at Christmas. Eventually she snapped out of it and averted her attention to the woman beside her.

“So I told Katherine I have Huntington’s and she was totally fine with it,” Chloe said with a radiating smile, tilting her head to look at Elly.

“And you’re surprised by that? Chloe, she wouldn’t be the right person for you if she wasn’t fine about it.”

“I know that. You just never know how people are going to react, you know? When I tell them I can’t have children… It’s really difficult.” Her flashing smile faded at the thought of it. After the words her ex girlfriend, Mel had recently spat at her over it she’d almost lost the confidence to tell anybody else. But again, as always, Elly had helped her see the light. Every time Chloe was in tears there was one person there and that person was always Elly. She couldn’t thank her enough. She didn’t know how to thank her enough.

“How do you feel about never being able to have children? It must be awful knowing…” Elly questioned with remembered grief of her miscarriage. It was something she’d wondered for a long time, but it had to be asked at the right time. This was her chance. Besides, deep conversations with Chloe were easier than they were with most. It was natural.

“I don’t know. I mean, I didn’t think I would be the kind of person to have them anyway but now I know I can’t have them it’s like I really, really want them. One of those you don’t want it until it’s gone kinda things.” Chloe laughed through the pain she could feel in her chest. She always did that, it was easier.

“Yeah, I can understand that feeling,” Elly nodded sympathetically, smiling faintly. She hoped Chloe wouldn’t catch on to what she meant. Sometimes Elly would say things she felt and then realise she didn’t know how or why she felt them. It was too soon for anybody else to know how she felt when she couldn’t even understand her own mind or feelings. “I think you’re being really brave about it all. I know I’d have gone off the rails by now.” Chloe shrugged and grabbed hold of Elly’s arm, almost hugging it as she stared at the orange sky.

“Well I’ve had you to help me through it.”

“And your brothers.”

“Yeah but…they kinda had to be there. You didn’t. But you stayed by my side anyway and I really appreciate that.” Chloe moved her eyes off of the pastel sky and allowed them to wander back to meet Elly’s. She hadn’t expected the other woman to be staring back with such a glimmer in expressions. The eye contact certainly hadn’t been planned but as their mouths fell silent, their eyes were full of life. They lingered far too long which caused Elly to eventually let out a nervous laugh, swishing her hair to the side.

“It’s a gorgeous evening. I’m really glad I get to spend it with you,” she mentioned, changing the subject.

“Yeah. I feel the same,” Chloe giggled, forgetting all about Katherine until Elly brought the British woman up again.

“Do you uh… think you and Katherine will last? Will you be the next the next big couple around here?” she laughed. Inside of her mind she was asking herself why she’d gone back to the topic of Chloe’s beautiful, new date. Silly decision.

“I don’t know, it’s early days. I never saw myself ever wanting to settle down with anyone other than you. But with her…yeah, I think I could see it.” Elly knew Chloe had never been the kind of woman to stick with one person for too long so hearing that come out of her mouth made her wince a little. Chloe noticed the darker haired woman’s reaction and narrowed her eyes. “Elly? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah, no, I’m happy for you.”

“Uh…are you sure? Your facial expression kinda said otherwise.”

“No. No, I’m sure. Just all of this stuff with Mark is making romance a little bit difficult right now,” Elly lied. And it was obvious, her voice had grown higher with every word. Chloe laughed it off. She didn’t understand what was going on in Elly’s head and it was better not to question it. Their friendship was too important and Elly had made it pretty clear that she wasn’t attracted to women.

“You and Mark will be fine! You always are. You’re solid.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” breathed out Elly. When she breathed she could feel a giddy feeling in her stomach, one she couldn’t explain. She tried to take deep breaths to ease it away. But then her mind joined in too, her eyes drifting to Chloe’s at every opportunity. It was making her feel mad, making her eyes abate to watery ones. “Look, I’m going to head off. I have an interview at the school in the morning so I should probably get to bed.” Elly got up off the bench suddenly and tried to keep her eyes averted away from Chloe’s.

“Okay well, we should do this again. I had a really good time.” Pulling her eyes away from Elly, Chloe launched herself at the woman, pulling her into a warm embrace. Elly awkwardly wrapped her arm around Chloe in return. The older woman was so confused. Why was the thought of Chloe dating somebody else making her tremble with jealousy? She wasn’t into women, she wasn’t into Chloe. She loved Mark and only Mark.

“Of course. I’ll give you a text,” Elly responded, removing herself from the tight hug. Her eyes went past Chloe and she attempted to turn her expressions deadpan. Then she started wandering off down the footpath, in the opposite direction.

“See ya,” Chloe waved her off, frowning with her own confusion over how their time together had come to such a sudden end.