Chapter 1: Arrival & First Sightings
A/N: Keep in mind this fic is supposed to be set in the 1950s! :)
"I can't believe you're finally joining me at university!" Darrell exclaimed, her eyes gleaming.
She looked as excited as she had been the day Felicity was going to Malory Towers for the first time. Even though she was now a mature young woman of twenty-two, at that moment she seemed like an excited schoolgirl again, a goofy grin spread wide across her tanned, less-but-still-slightly-freckled face. That grin and that excitement was where the schoolgirl similarities ended, for she definitely did not look like a little girl or even a teenager anymore, but a fully grown woman. She wasn't quite as stylish as Alicia and Betty had become – Felicity had hardly recognized them in the photograph Darrell had shown her – but she had definitely acquired a rather more serious, professional style, with many white button up shirts and blouses and brown and black skirts with flattering cuts.
Felicity looked at herself in the mirror and felt a twinge of nerves. She still looked like a schoolgirl. She had tried her best, tying her dark blonde hair back in a ponytail instead of her usual two plaits, and borrowing some of Darrell's clothes, but she still looked painfully young, almost naïve. She had tried some lipstick and blush on for the first time, but her mother and Darrell's coloring were quite a bit darker than her own, so the blush had looked much too dark on her and the shade of lipstick hadn't looked right. She had hastily wiped it off, in fear her family might laugh at her attempt to look more grown up, and had been too shy to ask her mother to advise her on what makeup to buy; anyway, it was too late to go shopping at that point, so she decided a bare face would have to do.
Darrell saw her young sister looking dubiously at her reflection and smiled.
"You look great, silly. Don't worry. I felt just like you when I first started university...young and lost!"
Felicity smiled weakly at this small bit of comfort.
"Come on, we have to pick up Sally on the way"
Sally had become more like another big sister to Felicity, over the years; she found that she tended to give more sensible, level headed, objective advice than the sometimes hot-headed, biased Darrell. She looked younger than Darrell, and perhaps most of her university classmates, on the outside – still fresh faced, without a trace of makeup, wearing simple, sensible clothes that privileged comfort over style. However, Felicity could tell she was the one who had matured the most since leaving Malory Towers; she always seemed to possess a clear head, a strong sense of self and vision about what she wanted. She was studying History, and was doing extremely well. She also had a very steady boyfriend in a neighboring university, George Wells, and planned to get married after finishing her studies. She was very clear about wanting to wait until graduation to marry, and often expressed her feelings about girls who abandoned their education for this reason.
"It's just such a shame", she sighed, in her soft, somewhat posh voice. "And it's not fair that men can continue their careers while married and women can't."
"Well, they can", corrected Darrell, who was in the driver's seat.
Felicity felt a little nervous. Darrell was good at many things, but driving was not one of them; she had already done two last minute harsh breaking. Sally hadn't yet learned how to drive; she was accustomed – and she chided herself for this – to have George, Darrell and Alicia drive her everywhere.
"It's almost impossible though, isn't it…as soon as they're married, they're expected to focus on their housework and then babies come along…not that I wouldn't like to get married and have babies, I would. But I just think it's such a shame they don't wait to complete their education."
"Are there many girls who do that? Get married before they graduate?" piped up Felicity.
"Oh, yes. It's expected, really. I mean, we have a whole class dedicated to housewife duties. You should see Alicia winding up poor old Mrs. Fields" chuckled Darrell. Sally laughed.
"She's awful. Remember that time Mrs Fields asked us what we would do if our husband invited his boss and wife to dinner at last minute and Alicia said 'I'd tell both him and his boss to cook their own bloody dinner while the wife and I have a smoke in the parlour'?"
Darrell guffawed. "Her face! Poor thing, she's a nice old lady, just really old fashioned. She thinks it's a shame women have to worry their pretty little heads over dreary things like careers. I heard her say that once. Sometimes when you go out with George, Sally, and she sees me studying alone, she pats my arm sympathetically and asks me if I haven't found a nice potential husband yet. So I say 'no' and she just looks at me and shakes her head, muttering 'such a shame'. I never have the heart to tell her I'm quite happy being single, thank you very much."
Sally laughed. "Poor Roger was heartbroken when you turned him down last year."
Darrell groaned. "I felt so bad, but I just couldn't go out with him! He's so…boring! I'm just not attracted to him in the slightest. If I ever find someone, great, but I'm not going to go out of my way to make it happen. If I die a spinster so be it!"
"You'll be a rich writer with the world at your feet and won't need any husband" replied Sally warmly. "Oh…watch out, Darrell, you're driving in the middle of the lane!"
"Oops. Sorry" laughed Darrell sheepishly. "I don't know about a husband, but when I'm a rich writer I could most definitely do with a chauffeur".
Felicity laughed. It always felt strange, listening to her sister talk about men and marriage. It seemed like just yesterday they were two little sisters in school uniforms, playing hockey and lacrosse and giggling non-stop at her father's jokes. She supposed she would see Darrell giggling at boys' jokes now, at parties and meeting.
"Do any of the other girls from back at Malory Towers have boyfriends, or are they married?" asked Felicity. She was genuinely curious, but she only really cared about the marital status of one of them.
"You'll have to ask Alicia on more information about that, she's the one who knows all the gossip" laughed Darrell. "I know she's been playing the field – I can hardly keep track of all the boys she's been toying with. You say I broke Roger's heart, well, she's broken Ron's, Peter's and Brian's hearts in less than one month!"
"She's definitely a heartbreaker" laughed Sally.
"Betty's not much better. They're both always going to parties, getting drunk and going out with different boys each week" said Darrell, shaking her head, a note of disapproval in her voice.
"There's a difference, though", said Sally. "Alicia has fun with her boys. She toys with them and dumps them. She's the heartbreaker. Betty on the other hand…she's the one getting her heart broken most of the time."
"True", reflected Darrell. "I think boys don't take her seriously. She's just Alicia's slightly drunker sidekick."
"I think she picks the wrong ones, as well. I mean, George Lake? You can tell he's trouble from miles away" laughed Sally.
"Not like your George!" said Darrell. "Poor Betty. She was devastated over him. She gets over them quickly, though."
Sally shook her head.
"Alicia makes her get over them quickly by throwing another troublesome boy at her. It's not healthy. She never truly gets over them, she just numbs the pain with more alcohol and another boy. It's all most superficial and frivolous" she sighed.
Darrell nodded in agreement. "There's nothing wrong with partying, but they take it to extremes…"
"So they don't look like they'll be marrying anytime soon. What about the others? Any you know of?" interrupted Felicity, trying not to sound too eager.
"Well, we know Mary-Lou's getting married…she invited us all…"
Felicity nodded. Mary-Lou's letter had arrived in the holidays, telling the happy news. She would be getting married in May.
"…who else? I think Belinda's got some boyfriend, I don't know about Irene…I haven't heard from them in ages. You'll really have to ask Alicia; she knows everything…"
Then the subject turned to something else, and Felicity sighed, slightly frustrated. The person she was most interested in knowing about hadn't even come up in conversation. She supposed Darrell and Sally weren't really friends with her, even though they went to the same university as her.
Gosh, just thinking about seeing her again made Felicity's stomach turn with nerves. She shook her head, inwardly scolding herself for being so silly. She probably wouldn't even remember her, much less what had happened back at Malory Towers. She had probably laughed about it and then forgotten it altogether. Part of her hoped so; it was one of her most embarrassing memories. And yet, another part of her cherished the memory, and still hoped for – for what?
It was silly. What hopes could she have? It had been so long ago, and it had probably been so insignificant to her.
"DARRELL! SALLY!" a voice called out, and for a minute Felicity felt like she was back in Malory Towers, girls calling out excitedly at each other, running around, with flushed cheeks, letting out squeals of joy at being reunited with their friends.
The woman who had called out wasn't running – she couldn't, in those heels – but rather stylishly rushing towards them; and her cheeks weren't flushed, but slightly blushed with powder. However, when she reached them, she let out a squeal of joy, just like the old Alicia did back at school, and hugged them. Darrell and Sally laughed and hugged her back, while Felicity stood back rather awkwardly.
Alicia looked very different; elegant, but with a touch of her natural playfulness and fun-loving personality showing in her colorful necklace and red shoes. Her eyes were as wicked and gleaming as ever, her smile as wide and contagious, only with peach lipstick adorning it.
Her sharp, wicked eyes finally saw Felicity and she gasped.
"Felicity Rivers, is that you? How you've grown!" immediately she winced. "Lord, I sound like my auntie Tessie. Every time she sees us she goes on and on about how we've grown so big even though even though we've stopped growing years ago"
Felicity laughed. Still same old Alicia, with her family stories and her sense of fun.
"Betty still hasn't arrived. Late as usual! Come on, we'll get your room sorted and then we'll take you to see our flat. You'll be sharing with June, by the way, I just took her there and left her to unpack her things."
Darrell, Sally, Alicia and Betty all shared a flat near the university campus. Darrell had offered Felicity a place there, but Felicity had declined; she liked the girls, and they all liked her, but she would feel a bit like an intruder, and she knew the little flat was already quite crammed with the four of them as it was – and with Alicia and Betty being as messy as they were, it was even more crammed up! Neat and tidy Sally had had a hard time with them at first, and Darrell had been close to losing her temper a few times, but all in all they seemed to get on well together as a foursome.
So Felicity had decided to live in the university, at least for the first year, until she found some friends to maybe share a flat with. Darrell had been so lucky; so many girls in her year had decided to go to university, the same university as her. Felicity hadn't been so lucky; only June Johns was beginning this year with her, and Pam. She liked Pam, but she had never been close friends with her; June, she had a complicated relationship with, and she wasn't sure how she felt, sharing a room with her. She was a lot like Alicia, but harder, and had a dishonesty about her that Felicity didn't like. She had done some things, back at school, that Felicity hadn't liked one bit, like the whole anonymous letter incident.
That stupid incident had led to a lot of other things too. A lot of embarrassing situations.
Felicity shook her head like she always did when she remembered something embarrassing, almost as if she was trying to rid her mind of said thoughts.
June looked up from her packing and Felicity braced herself for whatever reaction the other girl would have. She was so unpredictable. She might scowl, she might laugh, she might smile…you never knew with June. Thankfully, she grinned, walked towards her, and thumped her lightly on the back.
"Hey, old thing! We'll be roommates, isn't that smashing? Just like old times. We can plait each other's hair and get drunk."
Darrell looked slightly worried, and Alicia rolled her eyes, laughing.
"June's been talking my ear off about how she wants to go to parties and meet people. Specifically boys. I bet you're looking forward to that as well, Felicity! Maybe you can look after June, she's bound to acquire the taste of alcohol pretty quickly if she's anything like me, and then watch out!" she laughed.
"It's not all parties and fun, though. You'll have to work jolly hard" added Darrell, furrowing her brow slightly.
Alicia laughed and rolled her eyes again. "Gosh, Darrell, don't be a spoilsport. You'll have them wanting to leave before they've even begun! Sure, you have classes, and work…but in the end, the parties and the fun is what you'll remember the most about your time here, so you might as well make the most of it."
"I'll definitely remember your stumbling home drunk each weekend", shot Sally. Alicia laughed.
"Don't be prudish, Sally. Anyway, there's a party this friday, to celebrate the beginning of term. So I expect you'll be coming along…" began Alicia, just to be interrupted by Darrell.
"All right, we'll leave you to unpack your things and then you can both come along to see our flat."
"Maybe I can get Betty to make us all some lunch. She's makes super roast chicken!" Alicia called out as she closed the door beind them, leaving them to unpack.
Alicia did not get Betty to make them roast chicken – she laughed and told her to "fuck off", a phrase which shocked Felicity somewhat, but she didn't show it. The only times she'd ever heard anyone curse or swear was her father, in a moment of hot temper while driving. He had apologized profusely afterwards, due to intense disapproving looks from his wife.
Betty did, however, make them all turkey sandwiches, and Felicity had to admit, they were the best turkey sandwiches she'd ever had.
Betty was as fun-loving and full of life as ever, but she had a tiredness and a hint of sadness to her eyes that was new. She looked as though she had had her heart broken a couple of times but she still managed to laugh and joke around despite it all. Alicia, on the other hand, looked as though she had never had a moment of sadness in her life. She looked almost...arrogant, more aloof and cocksure of herself than ever.
Betty had always been a slightly less charismatic version of Alicia, and now it showed, more than it had when they went to school. Everything Alicia did, she copied. Not only copied, but tried to exceed, as though she knew she was a lesser version and had to do twice what Alicia did in order to compensate. If Alicia swore, she swore worse. If Alicia lit a cigarette, she lit two. If Alicia's sharp tongue criticized someone, she would add a crueler, cattier opinion. Felicity could tell, however, that it wasn't conscious; it was just what Betty did.
The flat was nice and neat when they had walked in, only to be quickly messed up by Alicia flinging her jacket on the floor and by Betty sending her shoes flying. The walls were painted a light blue; Sally's doing. It had a dining room with a sofa and two armchairs, two bedrooms – Sally shared with Darrell and Alicia with Betty, of course - and a kitchen with a long kitchen table and a little stove.
After they had eaten, they had a cup of tea each, and Betty and Alicia had a cigarette. It wasn't long before the conversation turned to gossip.
"Little Mary-Lou's the first one of us to get married! Who'd have thought? She told me to invite you too, June" said Alicia.
"She sounded really happy in her letter", smiled Sally.
"I just hope he's a good man. He better kill all the earwigs for her" said Darrell, a protective tone to her voice. Everyone laughed, remembering Mary-Lou's fear of "creepy-crawlies" as Alicia called them.
"Apparently he was her patient. That's how they met." Alicia added, wiggling her eyebrows suggestively and tossing the ashes of her cigarette into the ashtray in front of her.
Sally laughed. "How did you know? She didn't mention that!"
Alicia's eyes gleamed mischievously. "Oh, you know me. I have my sources everywhere".
Everyone laughed, Felicity rather nervously. She hoped Alicia didn't have any sources on her particular business! Not that anyone knew her business, apart from her.
"Felicity was just asking who else from school had married, or has a boyfriend. I told her you were the one to ask about that", Darrell said in a teasing manner.
"Let's see…darling Gwen managed to get some poor sap to marry her. She didn't invite anyone to the wedding apart from her dear friend Darrell. How was that wedding, by the way? Do dish"
Darrell rolled her eyes. She was the only one who kept writing to Gwen every so often, mostly because she felt sorry for her. "She's a bit better. Still has some silly ideas in her head, but that's not likely to change. I thought she'd humbled down a bit after having to get a job, but she managed to trap a rich husband. Wouldn't expect less of her, honestly."
Alicia snorted. "That's the thing with Gwen…she always got better for a little bit, and then once her life got back to the way she wanted it, she completely forgot all the lessons learned. Seems that hasn't changed. Oh, well. What is life without a few Gwens", she shrugged.
"Daphne left uni to get married last year to some rich lad…shame, she was actually doing fairly well, wasn't she? Mind you, I'd leave uni for a man like that…he looked like a dark handsome stranger from a romance novel. A real Mr. Darcy but more muscular" added Betty.
Alicia grinned. "And Saint Catherine apparently became a nun."
"How very fitting", replied June malevolently. Alicia chuckled.
"What about Moira? She was Catherine's friend at one point, wasn't she?" asked Felicity, seizing her chance.
A soft groan rippled among the older girls.
"Moira, god. She hasn't changed. She walks around thinking she owns the university, you should see her. Domineering and sour as ever. She runs the debate club – only she doesn't respect any debate that doesn't share her opinion. She runs the hockey team here too."
"I tried to run it with her, but she was impossible. She got worse than ever last year, I don't know why. Just snappy and rigid and completely, well…dictatorial. She wasn't as bad when I started running it with her, but last year I just couldn't deal with her anymore" sighed Sally.
"She didn't marry; I suppose?" Felicity asked, trying to keep her tone casual.
"God, no. Can you imagine a man putting up with that? Also…I don't think she's wired that way, to be honest." Alicia's eyes gleamed more and more as her tongue got sharper, and sipped her tea.
"Alicia…" Darrell shot her a warning glance, but the corners of her lips twitched slightly at her friend's malicious tongue.
"What do you mean, not wired that way?" June asked, her brow furrowing.
"Nothing", said Sally, her tone slightly sharp. "It's just rumors. We don't know anything about that."
"Rumors about what?" asked Felicity, feeling her body become tense and her heartbeat speed up slightly.
"It's not important" said Darrell, firmly.
"Well, so what!" Alicia exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air, the ashes of her cigarette landing on June's hair.
"Hey!" protested her younger cousin mildly.
"Sorry…but so what, honestly? What's the big hoo-ha? Look at Bill and Clarissa, they're fine, aren't they? There's nothing wrong with…"
"Ooooh, right" said June under her breath, a look of wicked realization on her face.
"We don't know about that either, Alicia", Sally snapped, looking uncomfortable.
Alicia snorted, a disbelieving look on her face, as if she thought Sally was too naïve and stupid to bear.
"Oh, come on. You can't tell me those rumors aren't real."
"Stop. You know I don't like it; it's not natural", snapped Sally. Darrell looked slightly uncomfortable, almost embarrassed for her best friend, and rubbed her nose. Felicity drank her lemonade, trying to keep her face neutral. Of course, Sally's reaction was only normal; most people she knew would consider it a taboo subject.
Alicia rolled her eyes and scoffed. Sally looked defensive.
"Well, it's not! I love them both, and they're good people, but…you know. I don't have to agree with it". She shook her head. "We don't even know it's the case, really…"
"Fine, whatever", Alicia cut across her, in a bored voice, masking the slight frustration at what she believed to be Sally's 'close mindedness'.
There was a moments silence, until at some point Alicia cracked a joke, everyone laughed, and the chatting and giggling resumed, as if nothing had happened.
No one noticed Felicity had turned a deep shade of red, and had begun to bite her fingernails. No one, that is, except for June, whose sharp eyes were watching her curiously.
Felicity only saw her once that day, from afar, as they left the flat and walked towards Alicia's car.
That was enough to make her heart leap and her stomach feel like it was going to come out through her mouth.
She was getting out of her car, a black, shiny Ford, in front of one of the more expensive looking flats in the street. She was dressed in an almost boyish, yet still stylish manner, with a simple white shirt, navy blue trouser pants and flat, black, well-polished shoes. The sleeves of her shirt were rolled up, revealing strong, slightly tanned forearms. Her shiny, straight, dark brown hair was cut shorter than it had been when she left Malory Towers, yet it was still long enough to have it tucked behind her ears. She looked slim, but with a more athletic, strong build; she had obviously been playing sports a lot in the past few years.
She didn't see them at first, as she was busy maneuvering her suitcase out of the boot, her dark eyebrows knotted toqgether in a frown, her face harder and stonier than Felicity had ever seen it.
Then, as she finally put the suitcase on the concrete floor, she looked up, and Felicity saw unsurprised recognition in her eyes as she first saw Darrell. Her eyes then locked with Felicity's. She felt an electric jolt run through her whole body, and her heart started pumping at a ridiculous speed. She could have sworn a hint of surprise, almost shock - but the good kind of shock, like a pleasant shock - flashed across the older girl's features, for a mere second. But before she could quite catch it, her face returned to its expressionless, stony self. She gave them a quick nod and stiff wave of recognition and greeting – and a look of slight distaste directed towards June. Then she turned on her heel and walked inside the apartment, taking her suitcase with her.
Felicity faintly heard June snort beside her. "Warm and friendly as always."
"Well, she has reason not to like you, specifically, June, to be fair", she heard Alicia reply. Their voices sounded far away, almost like she was underwater and they were speaking above the surface.
"Anyway, in you get…Felicity? Felicity? Felicity! Are you all right?"
Felicity jumped, feeling herself being jolted back into reality, back to the surface. "W-what?" she stammered, looking at the girl beside her but not quite focusing on her.
"I'm giving you a ride to the university, remember?" said a bemused Alicia, raising her eyebrows and speaking slowly and plaintively, as though she was speaking to a particularly slow child.
"Oh…yes. Sorry", said a dazed Felicity. Alicia stared at her.
"So…you know. If you'd like to get in…"
"Oh. Right. Right, sorry, yes" she stammered, shaking her head and getting into the car, feeling dizzy and slightly nauseous with nerves.
She ignored the slightly concerned, confused and bemused stares both Alicia and June gave her as flashbacks began to cloud her mind…
"That's an awful way of serving"
Thirteen-year-old Felicity stopped swinging her racket and turned around, indignantly, to see who had so rudely interrupted her practice. Moira stood behind her, watching.
"Darrell said it was fine" she replied, shocking herself with her bravery at answering back the head of fifth form.
Moira raised her eyebrows.
"Well, Darrell's wrong."
Felicity blinked at the older girl's blunt, domineering tone.
"The way you swing back your arm, you lose your force. Here, I'll show you"
She stood behind the smaller girl and took her arm. Her grasp was firm, but surprisingly gentle. She held her arm back, but not nearly as far back as Felicity was used to swinging it.
"Throw the ball"
Felicity threw the ball, swung back only slightly this time, and hit it.
"Better" Moira smiled. Felicity looked back at the older girl. Their faces were only inches away. Not in an inappropriate way, just in a 'trying to help you serve better' kind of way. Even so, the proximity, and the touch, made Felicity feel weird, like an electricity spreading through her body and up her cheeks, making them flush. Moira seemed to notice and abruptly dropped Felicity's arm, clearing her throat nervously.
"Sorry" they both muttered. Although sorry for what, Felicity didn't know.
"No, I'm sorry…I didn't mean…I was trying to help. It usually comes of wrong when I try to help" sighed Moira, smiling weakly. "Domineering, or…dictator-like."
Felicity shook her head.
"No. You did help me. Thank you."
Moira nodded, smiled and turned away.
"Moira?" Called the younger girl after her.
There was a slight silence.
"You're not a dictator. I mean – maybe you come off as one sometimes, but you're not."
Moira smiled and bowed her head; the first true act of humility Felicity had ever seen from her.
"Felicity? What's gotten into her?"
June's incredulous, slightly concerned voice snapped her out of her trip down memory lane.
"Sorry, what were you saying?" she asked, shaking her head.
"I was saying, I can't believe she lives all alone in that flat."
"Well, she couldn't find anyone who wanted to share with her. Or maybe she just doesn't want to share with anyone. She's a lone wolf. Always has been, she never really had a friend back at school, did she? Apart from Catherine, if you call that friendship... and she doesn't really have friends here, that I know of. Daphne tried, for a while, but she must have gotten tired of her ways. Plus she left, so...", replied Alicia, as she pulled up to the university entrance.
"She must be loaded. I mean, the university fee is already expensive enough, but that flat, just for her? And that car", said June, astonishment on her face.
"You sound like Gwendoline or Jo, talking about money like that. Come on, off you go. Be good, or at least, don't do anything I wouldn't do!"
They waved as Alicia drove off, and made their way inside the building.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this first chapter! More to come soon. I don't really know how universities work in the UK, much less UK universities in the 1950s, so I'm trying to steer away from too much description about it lol...please correct me if something isn't right! :)
Please review, I'm always grateful for any constructive criticism!
Chapter 2: Settling Down & First Reencounter
Felicity made a few new friends over the first few days, mostly thanks to June's charismatic first-impression charm. Her wit and humor usually got her fair-weathered friends pretty quickly, whereas Felicity took a while longer to bond with people. She wasn't painfully shy the way, say, Mary-Lou was, but she still struggled somewhat to start conversations and form her own group of friends. Once she did, however, they were likely to be lasting, stable friendships, whereas June tended to tire of people or sometimes make people tired of her with the same ease and quickness which had attracted them. She was that way with boyfriends, too, it seemed; she had gone out with two different boys during the summer holidays, and she had gotten tired of them both in a week.
So for now, Felicity shared a table at lunchtimes and teatimes with June's new pack of friends, the girls who were in the dormitories either side of their own; the stylish, aloof Deborah, the ever-smiling, fun-loving Mandy and the cackling, talkative Mary. Mary shared a room with a quiet, shy girl named Gladys, who June hadn't really bothered including; she had little interest in people who weren't fun or didn't show much personality at first sight.
However, their courses were different, so Felicity knew come Monday morning she would have to find her own friends in her classes. June wanted to major in Law; it seemed just right for the brazen, confrontational June. Felicity could imagine her very well in a courtroom, her chin stuck out defiantly in front of a jury. However, she knew it wouldn't be easy for her; there weren't many women in the law world.
Not that it would be any easier in Medicine. Her father had been happy, but also looked slightly worried, when Felicity told him she would like to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor.
"It's not an easy job, you know…it can be daunting, and a squeamish business, especially for a woman" he had said.
Felicity had been torn, at first, about what to study – she had always been drawn to medicine, since she liked the idea of curing and helping people, performing operations that could save people's lives; it was probably the most important job in the world. Then again, she was also drawn towards what Darrell wanted to become; a writer.
She had confessed her doubts to her sister, who had looked surprised.
"I didn't know you liked to write, Fliss!"
Felicity had smiled nervously, fervently hoping Darrell wouldn't ask to see any of her writing.
"I do…I'm not very good at it – nowhere near as good as you! But I do like to read and write, and anything to do with Literature" replied Felicity. "But you know I've also always wanted to be a doctor, like daddy"
"Well, you'd learn at university – that's the point of university, you know, to learn! But I think you'd be an awfully good doctor, Fliss. You could always write as a hobby, and take a few literary courses while studying medicine", Darrell had suggested. And then she had added, very enthusiastically: "And maybe you could show me some of your writing sometime! I would love to see it!"
Darrell's suggestion had sounded like a great idea to Felicity, so she planned on doing just that. Study to become a doctor, and take a few writing courses.
As for showing Darrell her writing…now that didn't seem like a very good idea to her. She had many notebooks full of written poetry, stories and reflections, only she didn't really believe they were any good, and was too embarrassed to ever show them to anyone. Also, many of them were too personal, much too personal; most people would highly disapprove of her muses.
Certainly they wouldn't be as good, she thought, as Darrell's writing skills; which she confidently read aloud now and then to her family. Then again, Darrell had never had such an embarrassing first experience of someone reading her writing as Felicity had. Gosh, just thinking about that moment made her want to crawl under the earth and stay there.
She shook her head, begging the flashback to go away.
The disbelieving eyes. The realization. The rejection.
She shook her head more vigorously. She wasn't going to think about that. And she wasn't going to think about her last sighting of her schoolgirl muse, or the possibility of running into her. Not that she had yet, and for this she was both slightly disappointed – especially when she spent ages every morning deciding what to wear and how to do her hair, just in case – and also grateful, for it gave her some tranquility and peace of mind while she settled in the university life.
It was very different from school; for one thing, there was a great deal more freedom. She got to choose which classes to take, it was up to her to go or not – of course, that freedom came with great responsibility, as her mother and father and Darrell had told her.
"No Miss Potts or Miss Parker will come after you if you skip a class, or play the fool – but it'll be a disservice to yourself; after all, no teacher cares whether you get your degree or not, but I'm assuming you do! And in order to get it, you jolly well have to pull your weight!" her elder sister had said sternly; probably worried at the fact June was going to be there, and she had been known to not be the best influence on Felicity. Felicity had listened to her sister, nodding solemnly. Of course she would study hard, and go to every class she could; June would probably try to persuade her to skip classes, or sacrifice hours of studying in order to party or go to meetings, but Felicity was firm that she wouldn't.
That was her plan; to focus on her classes, university activities, and make new friends. Not run into her. In fact, she would do her very best to avoid her at all costs…
"Felicity, since when have you transformed into Bonnie?", asked June, amusement dripping from every word.
Felicity snapped out of her own thoughts, turned away from her reflection in the mirror and frowned in slight confusion, remembering her vain, pretty classmate from Malory Towers who spent every waking hour admiring herself in the mirror and brushing her hair.
"What do you mean?"
"You've been tying and untying your hair for the past ten minutes. And you changed your clothes three times. I counted. You've been doing so every morning."
Felicity laughed, somewhat uncomfortably, fidgeting with the buttons on her flowery shirt.
"Well, it's different now we don't have our uniforms, isn't it? We used to not have a choice of what to wear, and now we do"
"True. And let's not forget there are boys to impress here. But don't put on that skirt, save it for the weekend! We're planning on going out to a bar in town, with Deborah's brother's friends. He told her to bring some girl friends along. That includes you."
That was the other thing that was different from school; boys. Men, to be precise; they were, after all, eighteen and over, but a lot of them still looked pretty young and boyish, while others looked like grown married men. So did the girls, though; some looked like schoolgirls while others – like Alicia, Darrell and Sally; and her, of course – looked like grown women. Felicity looked at herself in the mirror and sighed; no matter what she did to herself, she still looked like a kid. Oh, the boys (men) looked at her all right – not that she had personally noticed, since she took so little interest in men in general, but June had teased her endlessly about it those first days, after a group of lads had turned around to look at her appreciatively yesterday in the grounds, and after Peter, Deborah's brothers' friend, had specifically asked June if she thought Felicity would agree to go out with him if he asked her.
June communicated this last piece of information to Felicity now with great excitement, and Felicity said she couldn't understand what Pete had liked about her so much, since all they had spoken was two words; hello and goodbye. June laughed and rolled her eyes; "I can tell you two things he liked about you" she replied, nodding towards her bosom.
Felicity blushed; that was true, she certainly looked like a woman in that department.
"I'm so jealous. I've given up on mine, they're like two grapes", June mock-sighed, looking down at her own breasts. She said it with an air of someone who in reality couldn't care less, and she probably didn't; she wasn't one to have a low esteem of herself. Yet Felicity detected a small trace of real enviousness nestled deep in the mock-jealous tone. June was by nature a rather envious person; she certainly had been envious of Felicity in the past. And not in a joking way.
"Anyway, even if you don't go out with Peter, you're coming out with us on Friday. And that's an order."
Felicity smiled, thankful June was set on including her in the outing. She was pretty sure Deborah hadn't really considered inviting her, let alone consider her a friend, since she had barely exchanged two words with the girl – but as usual, June didn't seem to care what other people thought as long as she got her way. In her mind, Felicity was Deborah's friend, and Deborah had no say in the matter.
Felicity obediently got out of her best skirt and put on a plainer one. June was right, she would save it for outings. She would stop being silly trying to impress a schoolgirl crush who probably had forgotten her existence.
Felicity spent a fair amount of her free time at university in the library. Every time she walked into it, she marveled at its size and the sheer beauty of the place. Each wall, covered with shelves and rows and rows of books. History books, books of medicine, biographies, novels. She would check out the books on medicine she needed for her classes, and then gravitate towards the fiction shelves. She would check out around ten novels and poetry books at a time and devour them within days, sometimes even hours. She would stay up late at night, reading, sometimes even writing; luckily June was a sound and heavy sleeper, so there was little chance of her waking up and prying at her poems and written thoughts.
She traced her finger along the colored medicine book spines, looking for "An introduction to medical science". She slowly walked along the shelf, searching for the surname "Morris, E." when suddenly she bumped into someone beside her; someone a bit taller, with a familiar scent, only slightly tinted with tobacco.
"Oh, sorry", she whispered absent mindedly, looking up – and immediately flushing red. She suddenly stood up straight, all senses alert. "Oh. I – hello. Sorry." She stammered, inwardly groaning at her awkwardness.
A softness came across the bumped person's steely eyes behind her reading glasses and a ghost of a smile graced her lips. Or maybe that was just Felicity's wishful thinking, imagining things. She was holding a book in her hands, and seemed to have been interrupted in the middle of reading the summary.
"Rivers. How are you?" murmured Moira, and Felicity felt her stomach do a summersault and goosebumps across her skin. She had forgotten the things that voice did to her, that deep, somewhat stiff, no-nonsense voice.
Felicity rubbed her nose the way she did when she was nervous, or embarrassed, or when she had that feeling, the thing that she was feeling now, that unnamable, goosebumps-inducing thing. She and Darrell both shared this habit of nose-rubbing. A family trait, she supposed.
"Fine…I started university this year" she replied lamely, and immediately winced to herself. Talk about stating the obvious.
Moira raised her eyebrows, a hint of amusement in her expression.
"I gathered", she replied, dryly but softly.
There was an awkward silence as Felicity flushed and looked down at her feet.
"What are you looking for?" asked Moira, her tone brisk as ever.
"Um, nothing, just looking at my shoes"
What the hell, Felicity.
There was definitely a hint of a smile now; that amusement, however slight, wasn't simply in Felicity's imagination, she was sure of it.
"No, I didn't mean the floor, I meant in the bookshelves. What book were you looking for?"
Moira's tone was not unlike one a strict teacher would use to talk to a child, and a rather thick one at that. Felicity flushed. Of course, she still saw her as a little kid. She probably always would. Just a silly little lower-form girl with puppy dog eyes who admired her. She shook her head.
"Oh…'Introduction to Medical Science.' I can't find it though…"
"By Edward Morris? I have it back in my flat. You can borrow it."
Felicity smiled, pleasantly surprised.
"Oh, thanks! You study medicine too, then?"
"Obviously", replied Moira, not unkindly, but rather brusquely. Still the same old Moira. Then again, Felicity could see she meant no harm; it was just her way of speaking.
She had always seen through Moira's commanding, undiplomatic tone, even when she was very young. It was true she had always been domineering when coaching the younger girls, and rather brusque in her way of correcting them, but Felicity had always been able to tell that she wasn't mean. She could also tell – although Moira was so thick-skinned she would never admit it – that it actually hurt her to be called a dictator.
It had hurt her when June - who had certainly not been able to tell - had sent her those poisonous anonymous letters; Felicity had seen Moira's face contort in confusion, then harden into the typical Moira stony, expressionless glare as she tossed the notes aside in disgust. Of course, Felicity hadn't known, at that precise moment, what the notes said, but she could tell from Moira's expression that there were not kind words written on those pieces of paper. But she had also seen, between the confusion and the stony expressionless glare, another fleeting emotion cross the older girl's face, so fleeting and swift you hardly noticed it, but clear as day;
Then she had overheard Darrell and Moira talking about the notes, and Felicity had been appalled. Who could possibly have been writing such unkind, vicious things?
She had been dismayed when it turned out to be June.
She was even more dismayed when she found out she herself played a part behind June's reasons to write said notes; for she was envious of Felicity. Envious Moira and Darrell had chosen her, and not June, as part of the first team, and furious had Moira had ridiculed her in front of the entire form when she had complained. She had thought it blatant favoritism on Darrell's part, and Moira – well, she was just angry she had humiliated her. June did not deal well with humiliation.
But Felicity knew, deep down, she wasn't only Darrell's favorite. Moira had always had a soft spot for her, although she didn't know why. It probably had to do with the fact that she didn't make faces behind her back like the others, or mutter "dictator" under her breath. Because Felicity could see, despite Moira's domineering ways, that she only wanted to help, and had kindness inside her; and that if she was the way she was, there was a reason for that. Although consciously maybe Moira didn't know the other girl could see all this, subconsciously, she did.
So when June called out Darrell for favoritism, that struck a nerve with Moira, because deep down, she knew she herself favored Felicity too, perhaps biasedly more than any of the others, many of which were at least as good as – if not better – than Felicity. Which is why she had snapped at June, and embarrassed her in front of the other girls.
That soft spot had become even more so, when Felicity had rushed over to her after finding out the whole ordeal with June and the letters; when Moira decided to go and ask Miss Greyling to forgive June and not have her expelled. Felicity, not being able to contain her happiness at discovering she had been right about the older girl's hidden kindness, had rushed after her and taken her hand. She had looked at her with such admiration and liking Moira had squeezed it and smiled at the smaller girl.
"Oh, Moira – people say you're hard and unkind – but you're not, you're not! You're kind and generous and good, and I shall tell every single person in the first form so!"
That's what Felicity had said to her, and she never forgot the touched, soft look in the older girl's eyes at that moment. Felicity had always been glad she did that. If she hadn't, they probably wouldn't have grown as close as they had later on. Then again, that probably would have been better…but no. Everything happened for a reason, and all that happened afterwards needed to happen for Felicity to come to terms at least somewhat with herself; with her nature. She would have thought there was something dreadfully wrong with her if Moira hadn't assured her there wasn't. So she was glad everything turned out as it had.
Even though it had all been so dreadfully embarrassing.
There was another short silence as Felicity tried to keep those flashbacks in the back of her mind. She shook her head and wondered if she should just walk away, in a casual, laid back manner, when Moira spoke again.
"You'll be taking Gross anatomy on Friday, I assume?"
"Yes, why? Are you going to be there?"
Her tone came out rather too enthusiastic. So much for casual and laid back. Also, of course she wouldn't be in that class, she would be way too advanced; that was a first year subject. Moira smiled, properly this time.
"I've agreed to be an assistant-helper for Mr. Briggs in that class, so yes. I will be. To answer questions, and help out the new students if they need it. I can give you the book there if you want, unless you need it earlier."
Felicity nodded. It was Wednesday, and she needed the book for next Monday, so that worked out well.
"Sounds good. Thanks, Moira. It's awfully decent of you" she replied.
"Yes, well…I try to be."
There was a trace of tiredness, weariness, in her voice, and Felicity could tell life wasn't much easier for her here than it had been at school.
"You are", Felicity replied firmly.
For a moment, it was like reliving an old conversation. It was a reliving old feelings, too; not just the obvious, prominent ones - the lust and the nervousness and the ghost of a heartbreak; but also the sympathy she felt for the misunderstood Moira, mixed with the familiar annoyance she also always inevitably felt, at the back of her mind; annoyance with the world for misunderstanding her, but also annoyance with Moira herself, for not letting them even try to understand her the way Felicity at least somewhat did.
They remained that way for a while, looking at each other with a familiar understanding, or an almost-understanding, that almost made Felicity wonder if perhaps all that had meant something to Moira also after all. The confession, the feelings.
Her hopes were diminished, however, when the other girl suddenly averted her eyes and cleared her throat.
"Well…it's good seeing you, kid. You know, you should join the hockey team. I'm captain of the girls' team here. I remember you used to be awfully good"
Felicity smiled, rather uncomfortably. Sports had played a huge part in what had brought them closer back at school, and those long training sessions had been somewhat of a catalyst when it came to those particular feelings starting to form.
"I'll think about it", replied Felicity.
Moira nodded and placed the book she was holding back on the shelf. Her eyes lingered for a moment on Felicity's chest before she quickly met her eyes again and gave a little nod.
"See you Friday, then"
"See you Friday"
And just like that, she was gone.
Felicity let out her breath and leaned against the bookshelf, emotionally exhausted from that short conversation alone. She hadn't seen Moira for so long, and yet she knew there was something wrong. She had known ever since something Sally had said the first day she had arrived, about running the hockey team with her – "…she was impossible. She got worse than ever last year, I don't know why. Just snappy and rigid and completely, well…dictatorial. She wasn't as bad when I started running it with her, but last year I just couldn't deal with her anymore".
From that sentence alone, implying Moira hadn't been "as bad" when she started, Felicity could tell something had happened. Moira had been hurt, somehow. When Moira was hurt, she became snappy, closed off, rigid.
People would then comment on this, and call her a dictator, and worse things, and that would hurt her even more, and – oh, it would just become a vicious circle. It annoyed Felicity that the other girls seemed to be incapable of seeing, of noticing this; it was all so obvious to her. People don't just get better and kinder and then from one day to the other get worse and unpleasant out of nowhere; something obviously had happened to cause her to get "worse than ever", as Sally said. Felicity had been a great influence on her "getting better" and "softening up" at school, although no one knew this; they simply attributed it to the magical ability Malory Towers seemed to have – according to them – to "bring the good out in people". Not that they could really appreciate Moira's good internal qualities, simply because her external qualities happened to be a little too cold and dry and hard.
Then again, they never bothered to analyze how Moira really worked; they never realized how sensitive she really was. Felicity knew, and Moira knew that she knew, for she had read it, back then…Felicity shook her head, once more trying to free her mind from that particular flashback.
Gosh, she was dreading Friday.
She also couldn't wait.
A/N: Hope you enjoyed this second chapter, please review! It helps a lot :)
Chapter 3: A Friend of Dorothy
Felicity managed to avoid the whole Peter situation the next day; she was dreading him asking her out. Because honestly, how could she say no? He was very good looking, in that slightly-awkward-boyish kind of way; some would consider her to be almost out of his league. Also, he was bound to ask her in front of the others - she was sure that he would ask her Friday night - and then she would feel too guilty and mean to refuse. And she liked Peter, he seemed like a great boy – but as a possible friend, nothing more.
It was always a tricky thing, being asked out by a boy, in her situation; it felt rather mean to say no to just a coffee and a chat, yet it also felt mean to say yes and conceivably lead them on to think anything of the sort was at all possible with her.
Not that she had been asked out by boys a lot, being from an all-girls boarding school and from a fairly strict and very respectable family household. But whenever she had, she always faced this dilemma. She had tried to be attracted to them; she really had. She had even tried kissing her childhood friend, Dick Kirrin, one summer not long ago – the summer right after her incident with Moira, in fact, just to make sure – but it had been no use. And oh, she had felt mean, leading him on like that; he had been so confused when she told him she just liked him as a friend, after that. She had felt even meaner when she had kissed his cousin Georgina, just a few weeks after – not that he ever found out about that, she assumed.
She just wasn’t “wired that way”, she guessed, as Alicia would say.
She wondered how Alicia or anyone at the university knew about Moira’s – wirings; she was sure the girl was very careful about that particular aspect of her life; after all that was the advice she had given Felicity, back then - “you have to be more careful with this sort of thing”. She wondered if perhaps Moira had been involved in any sapphic affairs in university, and if one of them had reached Alicia’s sharp ears.
Alicia was so sharp. So was June.
She had seen June’s subtle raised eyebrows when she had mentioned Peter wanted to ask Felicity out, as though looking for a certain sort of reaction from her. She had also detected that trace of enviousness in her voice, and had felt rather uneasy.
She should really get a move on and start making her own friends, friends apart from June and her new circle, she thought. She did like June; she was fun, and entertaining, and always good for a laugh – plus she was really including Felicity in everything, for which she was grateful, considering she really didn’t have to do that - but she could also be dangerous when she was envious, or resentful about something, and Felicity didn’t want any drama from her.
The only place to really make friends away from June’s circle, she thought, was in her classes. So she would really try today. She walked into the classroom. The teacher hadn’t arrived yet; some of the students were chatting, others were reading, some were looking around, like her, wondering were to sit. A thin, stylishly dressed boy with blonde hair and glasses walked in, saw Felicity looking around and grinned.
“Hello, there. Fellow newbie?”
His voice was soft and tinged with a slight American accent. His eyes were startlingly green, almost cat-like, and twinkled with a kind, warm sort of mischievousness. Felicity smiled back.
“I think mostly everyone is, in this class” she replied.
“True, but some are better at hiding their newbie-ness than others. Look at those four chatting like they’ve known each other for years” he nodded towards a group of two girls and two boys. Felicity looked and laughed.
“Those two are chatting like they’ve been married to each other for years” she remarked, as one of the boys put his hand on one of the girls’ leg.
The blonde boy raised his eyebrows in mock shock.
“Disgraceful”, he remarked; “what is this generation coming to”.
They both laughed.
“I like you already. Laughing at other people is the best way to bond with a person, don’t you think?” he said, his voice light and teasing.
“That might be true”, Felicity shrugged, smiling.
“We should probably sit down. After you, m’lady” said the boy, gallantly extending his hand, indicating to Felicity to choose a seat. Felicity laughed and went to sit at a desk by the window. The boy sat beside her and stuck out his hand.
“I’m Frederick, by the way.”
“Felicity”, she replied, shaking his hand. “Where are you from?”
“Ah, you noticed my American accent, I see. I’m actually from New York, but I’ve been living in London for five years. Changing school was a nightmare”, he grimaced.
Felicity remembered Zerelda, the American girl who had gone to Malory Towers, and remembered how she had a hard time fitting in. She had secretly always thought she was rather exciting and exotic, although she had been so criticized by the other girls back then.
“What school did you go to?”
“St Patrick’s. All boys, run by priests. Back in America I went to a public, mixed school – real relaxed, so you can imagine it was quite a change. What about you?”
Felicity grimaced sympathetically; she had heard a bit about the strict priests at St Patricks.
“I’m from Cornwall. I went to Malory Towers – it’s an all-girls school too. I quite liked it, really, but university’s a nice change”
“I prefer a mixed environment – I’ve always gotten on better with girls” said Fred. Felicity looked at him and could imagine why – he had an effeminate air about him; she struggled to imagine him in an overly masculine, “tough-upper-lip”, environment like she had heard St Patrick’s was.
“So have you made many friends so far?” asked Fred.
“Not really…I mean, I’ve met some people through my roommate, June, who used to go to school with me – she’s more sociable than I am” laughed Felicity. “They seem nice enough. And my older sister Darrell’s here too, and some of her friends, so I’m not completely on my own. You?”
“Not really. My roommate’s a complete jerk. Seems to hate me for some reason. I talked to a couple of people, but you’re the first one I genuinely like, so. Friends?”
Felicity laughed at the boy’s honesty, and at the almost innocence of it all, the childlike aspect of asking someone if they wished to be your friend. She liked him; he reminded her of June in the sense he seemed mischievous and funny; yet he had a kinder, calmer air about him.
“Friends” she agreed.
That evening, they went out for tea together, and soon it was as though they had known each other all their lives; they talked about everything apart from the one thing Felicity suspected they both had in common yet floated around like an unspoken truth between them.
Nobody had noticed, back at Malory Towers, that Moira and Felicity had become close. Well, as close as you could be, being from different forms at that school; even being friends with someone just one form younger than one’s own was socially frowned upon by the girls. Which was quite silly, really, considering a second former and a third former could very well be the same age, or with a one-year difference, two at most. But that was school for you.
At university, Felicity thought, it was different; it wasn’t at all uncommon to see an eighteen-year-old chatting away with a twenty-something year old, or even kissing someone a few years older. Felicity had even heard some stories about affairs between students and teachers (although these, of course, were frowned upon, and with good reason).
She wondered if having an affair with a teacher’s assistant-helper would be frowned upon.
She didn’t know if all universities did this, but at St Andrews, many teachers had older students, students about to graduate, as assistants; usually one or two per subject. They would attend their class and basically assist the teachers in whatever they needed. They would also offer help and extra tutoring in that particular subject to the new students if they needed it. It was an efficient way of ensuring all the students got attention and help, and the assistant-helpers got to deepen and strengthen their knowledge on the subject, and learn how to teach and mentor others.
She pondered upon this as she studied the older girl from her desk. The teacher - a dark-haired, thin man of around forty - was explaining something about the different organ systems in the human body, but Felicity was finding it hard to concentrate with her sitting there.
They had become closer after the whole June incident, and after Felicity wouldn’t shut up gushing about Moira’s “kindness” to the whole form. It had been so obvious, even back then, the crush she had on the older girl, even though she didn’t recognize it as a crush at first. After all, she was only thirteen back then.
She had recognized it all right by the time she was fourteen.
It was the same year Amanda had decided to coach June in tennis and swimming. Moira, annoyed that Amanda had been only training June and ignoring Felicity, had decided to give the girl some extra coaching. That’s when Felicity really began feeling things. It wasn’t just the physical aspect of the situation – Moira taking her arm and gently showing her how to swing the racket or the hockey stick properly, and that sort of thing, although it had been somewhat of an incendiary component. No, it had been the chats, the long talks, the side to the older girl that not many people saw, that solidified her crush.
For instance, her incredibly dry, sarcastic sense of humor. Many people said she was like Alicia in many ways, only more domineering and with no sense of fun – that wasn’t true. True, Alicia was probably more conventionally fun; it was hard to imagine Moira dancing at a party, for instance. In that respect, she was quite a serious person; however, she had that dry, sarcastic, almost mean sense of humor, that wasn’t for everyone. The kind that made you emit an exasperated kind of laugh and roll your eyes at once.
She was also kind in her intentions, and truly cared about others succeeding. That’s why she was so strict, so demanding all the time; she seemed to not realize most people weren’t as demanding with themselves as she was with herself. She had to be, after all; after her father had decided to take his life and left them with gallons of money and a crushing depression which led to her mother’s complete detachment – not that she had been much of a mother to them growing up – and disappearance of any maternal instinct she may have harbored.
So from a young age, Moira was forced to be the strong one, to take charge of the situation, to be a mother and a father to her young sister Bridget, but she wasn’t much good at either, and only led to Bridget hating her. Depression in Moira didn’t lead her to lock herself up in her room and not get out of bed for days, like it did her mother; it led her to be mean. Snappy. Rigid. Domineering. She didn’t know how to be a nurturing mother, or how to make Bridget respect her in the way you would a father, which was probably the reason why the younger sister was so brazen and cold and disrespectful to everyone.
Moira had always taken on more than she could handle. But she would never accept not being able to handle something, so she would be twice as domineering, twice as stubborn, twice as dictatorial. She would make the world manageable, controllable.
Felicity could see, back then, that it did Moira good to open up to her. She would go to Moira’s study more and more often, and share lemonade and crackers. It was a good thing Catherine had had to leave so early in the beginning of term; Moira had been sharing the study with her and since she was gone, she had had it all to herself.
“What happened to Catherine?” asked Felicity one afternoon, after a long training session. They had gone back to Moira’s study to cool off.
“She had to leave” Moira replied, stiffly.
“Yes, I realize that. But why?” persisted the younger girl.
“Her mother was sick or something. I don’t know. Why do you ask?”
Felicity flinched slightly at Moira’s hard tone. She knew the girl well enough to know that whenever she got defensive it was because a nerve had been touched somehow.
“Why are you getting defensive?” shot back Felicity.
Moira stared, and for a moment Felicity wondered if she was going to snap at her to remember her place or something of the sort. It wouldn’t be the first time; if she really didn’t want to talk about something, she would pull the “I’m older and you have to respect me” card. However, she just sighed wearily.
“It’s just…it’s complicated” sighed Moira, running her fingers through her hair.
Felicity frowned, confused. Surely her leaving couldn’t have anything to do with Moira? Why would it?
“Complicated? In what way?”
“Just…” she paused, apparently thinking hard about what to say and how much to say. “We – used to be friends once. Back in fourth year. But it was – a complicated friendship.”
Felicity sipped her lemonade, frowning.
“When did it end? Last year? Did you fight?” she asked. Moira snorted softly.
“It didn’t really end, that was the problem. It sort of carried on like – a toxic circle. It was all right at first, but then I realized she was very manipulative, and I was very mean. It made me worse than ever – I was so irritable that year, during the whole pantomime thing. She hated me and I hated her and at the same time I lo – “she stopped abruptly.
“Why be friends if you hate each other?” frowned Felicity, confused.
Moira shook her head.
“You wouldn’t understand, kid. It’s complicated.”
Felicity thought for a while.
“It’s kind of like that with June, actually…sometimes I like her and sometimes she’s awful” she remarked, thoughtfully.
Moira smiled warily.
“No, not like you and June…I’m pretty sure it’s more intense than that.”
Felicity was about to ask in what way it was more intense, but the older girl had already changed the subject.
Felicity snapped out of her flashback with a jolt as Fred dug his elbow into her ribs.
“Ouch! What? Sorry – I – “
The whole class was looking at her.
“He asked you a question” hissed Fred.
“Doctors must pay attention at all times, Miss Rivers”, said the dark haired teacher, sternly. He didn’t look cross, exactly, but slightly annoyed. “It wouldn’t do much good for a doctor to daydream while he operates on a dying patient, now, would it?”
“No. I’m sorry”, replied Felicity, her cheeks red. A few giggles and sympathetic glances were thrown her way and she sighed. Great. Now she looked like an idiot. Thankfully, he just gave her a stern look, muttered something about “women doctors” and carried on with the class.
Once it had finished, Felicity stood up, still slightly subdued with embarrassment. Fred stood up beside her, turned to her and grinned.
“What a sexist prick. Did you hear him muttering about women doctors? And what’s up with you, dreamy-head? What were you daydreaming about?”
“Nothing, just remembering stuff”, laughed Felicity, waving her hand dismissively.
“Hmmm. I bet you were thinking about Mr. Dimples asking you out tonight. I bet you secretly like him and you’re just playing hard to get” teased Fred, grinning. Felicity groaned and rolled her eyes.
That morning, before Anatomy class, she had grabbed Fred’s arm and hurried him along because she had seen Peter rushing towards her in the distance like a cat chasing a mouse, his smile showing off his two dimples in his cheeks – hence the nickname “Mr. Dimples”. She had had to explain the whole situation to Frederick, for which he had teased her mercilessly all day.
“You better come with me tonight” said Felicity. She had pleaded to him earlier to come with her that evening to the outing, to which he had agreed.
“I will. Although I don’t know why you don’t want to go out with him…”
He was interrupted by Moira, who stood in front of them with a casual if slightly stiff smile, and handed out the book she had promised to bring Felicity, who beamed.
“Oh, thank you! You’re a brick” she smiled.
“You’re welcome. Hope you pay more attention to it than you did to this class” she replied, her tone dry but her eyes glinting slightly. Felicity laughed.
“That was embarrassing”, she admitted, flushing slightly. “My head was somewhere else”
“I could tell. Don’t worry. Things are never as embarrassing as they seem to oneself” replied Moira, her voice gentler.
There was a short silence. Felicity wondered if that past embarrassment had not seemed as embarrassing to Moira as it had felt to her. She suddenly remembered Fred, who was standing beside her, looking from girl to girl with curiosity, like someone watching a particularly interesting scene in a film.
“Fred, this is Moira. She used to go to school with me”. They smiled at each other, Fred’s smile inquisitive, Moira’s polite, and shook hands.
“Cool, you used to be friends then?” Fred smiled. Moira and Felicity looked at each other and smiled somewhat sheepishly. Felicity supposed they had been, really; yet it was so unheard of to be friends with someone in such a higher form that it was strange to think of their past bond as a friendship. Then, of course, Felicity had messed up whatever “friendship” they had.
“Yes…well…sort of” replied Felicity at last.
Fred looked bemused but said nothing.
“I talked to Darrell this morning. She tells me you’re joining a writing course” Moira said. Felicity wondered if the same memories were popping into her head. The writing fiasco. She hoped it wasn’t the case; she was probably just making conversation.
Don’t go red, Felicity thought to herself, as she nodded in what she hoped was a nonchalant manner.
“I was thinking about it, yes – I’m nowhere near as good as Darrell, but I thought I might, as a hobby” she shrugged, rubbing her nose and smiling.
“You are good” replied Moira.
All right, so she does remember.
Moira seemed to realize the memories she was bringing up by saying that, and cleared her throat.
“Well, tell me if you need any help with anything. Not the writing, I mean, with medicine…I could tutor you, if you like” her tone was brisk and businesslike, yet had an underlying emotion underneath. Almost a hopeful tinge.
“That would be great” Felicity replied, smiling.
“Yeah, that would be awesome, I’ll need some tutoring for sure” piped up Fred, grinning from ear to ear, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
Moira blinked, looking slightly taken aback, as if she had forgotten he was there. “Oh, yes, of course, you too.”
Once they had walked out of the classroom, out of the building and into the grounds, Frederick stopped abruptly, turned to Felicity and crossed his arms, a triumphant look in his eye.
“Well, now I know why you won’t go out with Mr. Dimples.”
Felicity rubbed her nose, suddenly wary.
“What do you mean?”
Fred rolled his eyes, looked around to check no one was listening nearby, and dropped his voice to a whisper.
“You’re a friend of Dorothy, aren’t you?”
Felicity dropped her hand from her nose, now truly confused.
Fred looked at her suspiciously, as though wondering whether he was mistaken or she was just naïve.
“I might be wrong, but I don’t think so, judging from the way you were looking at that girl like she’s the best thing since chocolate eclair”
Felicity widened her eyes and fidgeted, not knowing what to say. Could she trust him? After all, she only met him a day ago, and she wasn’t sure if he was talking about what she thought he was…
Fred seemed to read her thoughts and rolled his eyes.
“Felicity, look at me. I’m like you. Well, the opposite, technically…but come on. I’m not going to judge you.”
Felicity sighed and her shoulders slumped, like a weight had been somewhat lifted from them.
“How could you tell?”
“Well, first off, you were staring straight at her while daydreaming…”
“Oh, god”, Felicity groaned, burying her face in her hands.
“…I hadn’t realized at that moment, though, I just thought you were staring into space and she happened to be in your view. I realized as soon as you opened your mouth to speak to her and you started going tomato red” he finished.
“Am I really that obvious?”
“And as for her, I could tell she was a friend of Dorothy just by looking at her. That one’s really a friend of Dorothy.”
“What does that even mean?” cried Felicity, half exasperated, half amused.
“A raging homo”, replied Fred bluntly.
“Ssshhh! Yes, all right, I gathered that much. I’ve never heard of that word before. Anyway, I know she is – but I messed it all up years ago. You have no idea. It was so embarrassing” sighed Felicity, leaning against a tree trunk.
Fred raised his eyebrows.
“Well, I don’t know what you think you did to mess it up, but I don’t think you have. She seems keen on you”.
“I’m serious! What did you do that was so bad, anyway?”
“It wasn’t bad; it was just – embarrassing. I kind of…confessed my feelings for her by accident. And she said I was too young”
“How old were you?” demanded Fred.
“Fourteen. She was eighteen, and a head-girl, and she said it wouldn’t be right…and a load of other things.”
“Well, she was right. It would have been downright creepy considering you were a child compared to her. But you’re both adults now, it’s different.”
“I know. I hope so, but – I don’t know. I think she still sees me as a kid. I made everything awkward back then, and it’s still awkward, even now” sighed Felicity. “I can barely look her in the eye.”
“Well, I think you should accept her tutoring offer and see what happens. She can’t see you as a kid forever. If you start spending time together, talking about things, you’ll get past the awkwardness. And if not, there’s plenty – well, maybe not plenty – but quite a few fish in the sea. Frankly, she seems a bit of an ice-queen anyway”, smiled Fred, elbowing her playfully.
Felicity smiled, elbowing him back, her head slightly lighter and less worried. It felt good, being able to talk to someone about it. People made you see things in a simpler manner.
“Now, tell me the whole story, and then we’ll get ready to see Mr. Dimples and your friends.”