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princess isn't an insult

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“I’m fine, really, Kimberly,” Megan said, ignoring the stare and the muttered “of course you are” coming from her best friend as they walked to their lockers. “We just didn’t work out. I don’t think he was right for me, that’s all.” 

“I thought he was fun! And you can’t deny he’s handsome,” Kimberly replied, beseechingly. Megan helplessly shrugged. She just couldn’t make herself look forward to being with him. If she was honest to herself, which she generally wasn’t, she had way more fun waving her pompoms than she’d ever had in the passenger seat of Jared’s car. 

“Sure, he’s handsome. I really thought I loved him but even you said I should enjoy kissing him, and I– well, I just don’t .” Megan continued before Kimberly could interrupt her. “So I need to be available to meet someone who I do enjoy kissing.” And having conversations with and touching and spending time with and–

“You think he was the problem?” Kimberly said as they reached their lockers. 

Megan bristled. “Are you saying you enjoy being licked all over your mouth? I’ve seen romantic movies; that’s not how people are supposed to kiss.” She opened her locker with a little more intensity than strictly necessary and forced herself to calm down. The posters helped. 

“There’s no one right way to kiss.” Kimberly started then sighed. “But I guess I know what you mean. I wouldn’t want to be kissed like that either. We’ll just have to find you a new guy.” She looked at Megan with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes, and Megan nervously fiddled with her hair. She could hear the whispers around them and hated knowing it was probably about her, about The Breakup. 

“You’ll tell me if Prince Charming comes knocking at the door for me, right?” Megan joked despite the tightness in her chest, gathering up her books and swiftly slamming her locker door shut. “Anyway, I should go to class. Catch up later?” She left before Kimberly could say another word. 

When she entered her class, she paused in the doorway. Right. This was the class she shared with Jared. The guy she’d broken up with. The guy she’d spent the whole year sitting next to. Everyone already had their unassigned, assigned seats. Whispers once again filled the air as people saw her paused and nudged their friends to see. 

Unwilling to put on more of a show, Megan just swiftly sat at a desk in the back, feeling her face burn hot. She rested her head on the desk with a sigh. Megan had always had friends in every class, but she was quickly learning that most of them were actually Jared’s friends. Which was fine. She could deal with that. 

“Why is your ass in my seat, princess? Hanging with the meathead players not good enough for you anymore?” A voice drawled from next to her. Her head shot up. Standing there was a girl Megan only knew from the sarcastic comments thrown from the back of classrooms. If her face had been hot earlier, now it was on fire.

“Sorry!” Megan said, already reaching to gather her stuff up. “Didn’t realize anyone sat here, I just–”

“You just broke up with your boyfriend and didn’t want to sit near him.” At Megan’s quizzical look, the girl—she was pretty sure her name started with a ‘G’—continued. “You may not know who I am, but it’s pretty hard to avoid talk about you .”

Megan stood, backpack in hand, shocked at how close the movement brought her to the girl. She had to tilt her head back slightly to make eye contact. “Sorry to bug you, I’ll just–” She gestured vaguely at the front row where a lone girl sat wearing all pink. 

“Believe it or not, the seat next to me is empty.” The girl gestured with her chin. Her eyebrow rose. “That is, if you’re not too scared to sit next to little ol’ me?” Despite the cocky air, the girl bit her lip a little as if she were nervous. It was that action that made Megan move to plop her stuff down one desk over. 

“Congratulations on your first steps, pompoms.” The girl said snarkily. Megan rolled her eyes and changed course, going to sit in the front of the class. Her life was already hard enough without spending it next to some mean girl. 

It felt a little like the proverbial walk of shame, Megan couldn’t help but note as she felt eyes follow her. Logically, she knew that most people didn’t really care about The Breakup, but the people who did manage to care enough about it for the whole school. 

“Oh, you’re sitting next to me?” The girl in pink said, blinking behind her glasses. Strangely enough, she had an Australian accent? Or maybe British? New Zealand? Megan couldn’t quite place it. 

“Yeah. If that’s okay with you, that is?” Megan said with a shy smile. At the girl’s nod, she sat and made herself comfortable. “I’m Megan, by the way.”

“I know, actually.” She said with a laugh as she reached up to adjust her glasses. “I’m Hilary.” 

There was a beat of awkward silence before Megan opened her mouth, unable to stop herself. “Who’s that girl in the back again? The one in the black shirt?”

“Oh, that’s just Graham. I wouldn’t worry about her too much.” Her voice dropped down to a whisper. “Mrs. Mary thinks she’s a spoiled brat, but you didn’t hear it from me.” Megan looked over to where the teacher in question sat at her desk, adjusting her false lashes in a tiny mirror. Honestly, as much as Megan respected Mrs. Mary’s teaching skills, she really wasn’t known for being nice to her students. 

“She’s so pretty, isn’t she?” Hilary said, leaning her head on her hand dreamily. 

“Who? Graham?” Megan looked back at the girl and made direct eye contact. Graham gave a snarky little wave in response, and Megan’s eyes shot back toward the whiteboard at the front of the room. Awkward. 

“What?” Hilary seemed to be shocked out of a reverie. “Oh, yeah, sure. Graham.” The girl's eyes darted around nervously. So not Graham then. 

Right after the bell rang, Jared and his posse waltzed into the classroom without a care in the world. 

“Late again, boys.” Mrs. Mary said with a lighthearted laugh. She was always lenient with the football boys in a way that secretly made Megan uncomfortable. 

“Sorry, Mary, you know us. We were just talking to our coach.” Jared’s friend smiled charmingly. For once, Megan’s ex wasn’t at the head of the group. He looked tired and upset in a way that made her shift around in her seat guiltily. Maybe Kimberly was right? Jared hadn’t even really done anything wrong—other than being a bad kisser, that is.

“Maybe if your coach had graduated from high school, he’d understand the importance of actually showing up to classes.” Graham drawled. When Megan glanced back at her, she raised an eyebrow and examined her fingernails. 

“Hey, we showed up! We were nearly on time and everything,” Jared piped up, irritation coloring his voice. 

“Don’t think we don’t notice you skip, like, once a week, idiots.” Graham glared at Megan’s ex spitefully. 

“Aren’t you supposed to be a rebellious punk? Why are you even here?” Jared’s friend hatefully spat at her as the group pulled their desks to form a cluster. Mrs. Mary said nothing. 

“Believe it or not, I’d actually hate to graduate with a 3rd-grade reading level like you guys. If you dumbasses even manage to get out of here.” 

“Graham!” Mrs. Mary finally chimed in. “I’ll have you know that my son Rock never graduated, and he’s doing wonderfully, so stop picking on these poor boys.”

Graham rolled her eyes but rocked back in her seat. 

“Now, I don’t want to hear any more outbursts from you.” Mrs. Mary stood. “Anyway, as we all know, one of the best parts of high school is, of course, friendship which is why we’ll be doing a copious amount of group work in this class.” Eyes locked throughout the room as everyone immediately looked at their friends. Megan just looked down awkwardly. “I need everyone to find a partner.” 

Megan looked at Hilary hopefully, but as she opened her mouth, Mrs. Mary’s voice rang out once more. “Hilary?” The girl in question looked to the teacher with an easy smile on her face. “Since there’s an uneven amount of students, I thought you might want to help me with some special projects?” Hilary nodded without hesitation and stood to join Mrs. Mary at her desk.

Right.

Everyone around Megan had finished clambering to team up, and she looked around nervously before awkwardly raising her hand. 

“Um, Mrs. Mary?”

“Yes, Megan? What is it?” 

“I, uh, I don’t have a partner.” She tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and once again ignored her shaking hands. 

Mrs. Mary gave Megan a Look—one that said if she were less professional she’d be rolling her eyes—and called out, “Who else doesn’t have a partner?” 

Megan’s heart dropped as she saw a ring laden hand rise half-heartedly into the air. 

“I don’t.” That increasingly familiar drawl seemed to fill the room despite her mild tone. 

Well. Crap.

Chapter Text

Megan sat silently while the rest of her classroom erupted into laughter and general good times. She couldn’t help but glance at the broody girl in the chair next to her as she fiddled with her rings, her dirty hair falling in her face. 

Sighing, Megan scooched her desk closer to Graham. When the girl’s face fell, Megan responded indignantly, “What am I, contagious?”

“I don’t know, are you?” Graham rolled her eyes but closed the gap between their desks. “Guess you had to sit in the back after all. Très tragique.” 

“Oh, I see she’s bilingual,” Megan said under her breath. When Graham let out a little snicker, Megan couldn’t help but smile softly. 

“That is the only kind of bi I could ever claim, yeah.” It was said so deadpan that it took a moment to even register as a joke.

“Bi?”

“Really? I don’t know how you cheerleaders stay so completely in your own little world. Those flips really do something to your brain, huh.” Graham paused a beat and picked at her cuticles. “Bisexual. It means you like more than one gender, prom queen.”

“I’ve never actually been prom queen. There was talk about this maybe being my year, but well…” Megan stole a glance over to where Jared sat already looking at her sorrowfully. She blushed.

“Why did you break up with Mr. Star Athlete again? His dick wasn’t big enough?” Graham raised her eyebrows suggestively with a somehow sarcastic looking smile on her face.

“I’m a Christian!” Megan said, affronted. “And, anyway, I don’t see how this relates to our project.” 

“Priss,” Graham rolled her eyes and reached for the sheet of instructions Mrs. Mary had Hilary pass out. Did her lips naturally look like that or was she pouting them? Megan couldn’t quite tell. “Apparently, Mary wants us to ‘take turns writing to create an interesting and cohesive collaborative work.’” 

Feeling petty about having her ideal partner stolen, Megan muttered, “I’m surprised she managed to spell all those big girl words correctly.” 

When she risked a glance over at Graham, she was shocked by the wide smile on the other girl’s face. Honestly, she looked really… pretty? when she smiled like that, dimples fully on display. A smile like that seemed to strip away the visible walls Graham had built up. A smile like that legally required one in return.

Suddenly, the smile fell, and Graham cleared her throat as she turned her attention to the paper. “We have to turn in whatever we manage to do every day, and we’ll be graded on our effort and how our writing improves over time.” She scowled. “Apparently, she’s using our class as her little lab rat on this project.”

“Well, I think it’ll be fun,” Megan said as she pulled out her notebook with a smile. “English isn’t my best class, but this is creative, right? So it shouldn’t be that bad.” 

Graham groaned. “You really are sweet as fucking pie, aren’t you?” Megan resiliently ignored how her face immediately flushed. “Here, I’ll go first.” 

The girl reached out, took Megan’s notebook, and got to work. Megan really wasn’t sure what she was supposed to be doing while her partner was writing, and the provided instructions offered no insight. 

She glanced over at Graham, and suddenly, it was like she couldn’t look away. 

Graham’s eyebrows furrowed intensely as she thought. Her lips pursed. The hand she wasn’t using to write with reached up to pull strands of hair, which had fallen into her line of sight, back. Seconds later, it fell right back into place. Megan guessed that that’s just one of the risks you take when you have such short hair. Did Graham ever have long hair? Suddenly, Megan wanted to know all the details and secrets of the mysterious girl sitting next to her. 

The dark eyes suddenly turned to look at Megan. Megan felt like she’d been caught red-handed for some reason. Graham raised her eyebrows once but like there was a joke that Megan was in on. She had no clue what Graham could be teasing her about, but she smiled in response, feeling her eyes crinkle. 

“Your turn.” Graham pushed the notebook in Megan’s direction. Since Graham had already introduced a female character into the story, she went ahead and added an obligatory male counterpart. Megan could feel Graham’s eyes on her just like she’d been watching Graham before. Without thinking, she reached and pulled her hair behind her shoulder to give Graham a clear view of her face as she wrote. 

It didn’t feel like nearly enough time had passed when she finished and handed back over the writing. Graham grinned at her then leaned in to read her work. 

“Oh god, of course, you made her straight. I literally gave her blue hair, and you wrote her a male love interest. What did I have to do? Write about her cuffed jeans and have her listen to girl in red?” Graham laughed in disbelief.

“I don’t really get either of those references,” Megan started.

“Remind me to educate you on queer culture some time,” Graham interrupted without care. Weird. As if they’d really spend enough time together to teach each other anything. 

“Also, she could be bi! Like you said earlier! Attracted to both.” Megan finished with a proud smile.

“Did you intend for her to be bi?” Graham leaned toward her challengingly. 

“Well, no. But how was I supposed to know she was supposed to be gay? You didn’t exactly come out and say it.”

Graham let out a short laugh. “‘Come out.’ Nice one.” Megan didn’t want to admit that the pun had been completely unintentional. “Anyway, I’ve never written a straight character in my life.”

“Not very inclusive of you, is it?”

Graham scowled, but her face eventually twitched into a smile, almost like she’d tried and failed to stop it. 

“God, you really are a smartass, aren’t you?” Graham said, squinting her eyes slightly and turning back to continue to work.



 

 

“Do you think I’m smart?” Megan said abruptly. 

Kimberly, who had been in the middle of listing single guys with ‘good potential,’ paused. “What?”

Megan repeated the question. They were sat in the cafeteria, the previously full table now only hosting the pair. Megan tried not to think about it.

“I– Well, I think you don’t really have to be smart, honestly.” At Megan’s frown, Kimberly rushed to continue. “You’re a cheerleader. You’re pretty. You’ll get to college on a sports scholarship, find the Perfect Man, get married, and never really have to worry about trying to be smart .”

Megan’s frown stayed firmly on her face. “But wouldn’t a Perfect Man want to, I don’t know, have witty conversations with me? Care about my thoughts on everything under the sun?”

“Uh, no? Did Jared ever seem particularly interested in anything you had to say?” Now, Kimberly was frowning back at Megan.

“Well, no, but I never liked that about him.”

“If you want a guy that actually cares about the things you have to say, that makes this whole matchmaking thing so much harder.” Kimberly’s eyes widened like she’d made a critical mistake. “Not that there isn’t a guy like that out there! I just think you might have to lower your expectations a bit.”

“I don’t even know if I’m ready to date again, Kimberly. Jared and I dated for two years,” Megan implored her friend, her best friend to understand. “I just don’t think it’s the best idea to jump into a new relationship before I’m ready.” 

“Does that mean you’re not over Jared? Should I call him over here?” Kimberly looked about ready to stand up and call over Megan’s ex from across the room. Megan stopped Kimberly by reaching out to put her hand on the girl’s shoulder. Kimberly flinched away from her slightly. She felt tears well up as she retracted her hand.

“Can’t you just–” Megan took a breath to calm herself. “Can’t you just be on my team? Support me?”

Kimberly sighed heavily. “I’m really trying to, Megan. I’m trying to do what’s best for you.”

“And you don’t think what’s best for me is to have a friend that has my back? Who supports me whether I’m dating or not?” This was far too serious of a conversation to have during lunchtime in a school cafeteria, but Megan couldn’t stop herself.

“No.” The reply was simple and straightforward and still hit Megan like a bullet. “No, I don’t. I wish I could be there for you, but I can’t support you as you live an immoral life. I refuse to.” 

Megan was getting angrier and angrier. Well, truthfully, she was getting more hurt, but anger was an easier thing to feel. “What does that even mean? Since when is not dating a sin? What version of the Bible are you reading because that’s not in mine.” 

“It is if you’re dating a girl.”

What ?”

“Oh, please. Of course, we figured it out. You have pictures of girls in bikinis in your locker, you want to date someone who ‘thinks you’re smart’ which, let’s face it, is a big ask, and look what you’re eating right now!” Megan followed the order, mouth open in shock. Her plate just had her normal vegetarian meal on it. 

“So now you have a problem with salads ?”

“If they don’t have any meat on them, yes!” Their argument was starting to draw the attention of nearby tables. “When was the last time you had any meat? Any at all?”

“I don’t know, like a year ago? I don’t like thinking of animals in pain!”

“Well, I’m sure you still like fish,” Kimberly spat in her face.

Megan was definitely bright red by this point. “Fish isn’t even vegetarian! And I am not a lesbian!” She gathered up her stuff to storm off dramatically as Kimberly rolled her eyes.

“Who do you think you’re fooling, Megan?” Kimberly shouted after her. 

Many watched her retreat, but no stare burned quite as intensely as the dark eyes of a certain brooding girl who watched with eyebrows raised.

Chapter Text

The library was quiet. Sure, Megan knew that libraries were always supposed to be, but she still felt like everyone was watching her. They weren’t. They probably weren’t even in the cafeteria during the fallout. Megan, of course, knew this.

Megan sat at a table in a corner of the library as far from other people as possible and laid her head on the table with a sigh. People thought she was gay. How many people assumed that about her? The surface was cool against her forehead in a way she’d usually find calming. It did very little to weaken the current storm within. 

How could Kimberly have shouted those things at her? Especially in such an open, public setting? Megan was still getting over her breakup and certainly wasn’t emotionally ready for this mess. She had yet to fully mourn the loss of certainty in her future that relationship had given her, not to mention the friends she had through him. Maybe she’d even miss him a little, with his silly jokes about football and uncomplicated company. 

God, did she have anyone left in this whole school that cared about her? She wasn’t a lesbian, but how dare they treat her like this either way! It shouldn’t matter! It was 2020! 

What else could possibly go wrong today?

“That was quite a scene, princess.”

Oh. That.

Megan reluctantly lifted her head to look at Graham. The girl was leaning against the table with her arms crossed. It really was like she spent every second trying to look as aloof as possible. 

“Yeah, well, I’m glad you enjoyed the show. Maybe next time I’ll charge for admission.” Megan was just so tired of the whole day. Talking to this girl that had managed to make her want more out of life in one conversation certainly wouldn’t help. 

“Next time? That shitshow is going to happen again?” Despite the words, Graham’s voice was softer than Megan had ever heard before. 

Oh. She was being nice.

Every part of Megan wanted to pull back and protect herself from the obvious pity. But what was the point? She was going to have to interact with Graham every day for a little while, at least; it would be stupid to start a fight. Plus, she was so done with arguing and being on the defense.

“I don’t know. It’s not like I have any other friends to get into a fight with, so unless Kimberly wants a rematch, I doubt it.” She gave Graham a tight smile. 

“Hey, you have loads of friends. I’ve seen you walking around the halls with them,” Graham said, still using that soft, sweet version of her voice as she looked at Megan with wide eyes. “You think the cheerleaders and the football players will turn their back on you so easily?” 

“If they think I’m a homo, yeah.” Megan couldn’t bring herself to make eye contact with the brunette as she spoke. Graham looked increasingly awkward standing there. 

“Oh,” Graham paused a beat. When Megan’s eyes darted up to her face for a second, it almost looked like she was trying to hold back a smile. “Well. Are you?”

“No! I dated Jared, didn’t I?” Megan scowled and felt her guard rise again. 

There was a long, quiet pause. Megan looked up at Graham again, finally. When they made eye contact, Graham finally spoke. “I wasn’t trying to be mean. I’m gay.”

Megan felt her eyebrows furrow. “You are?”

“Well, yeah. I like girls,” she smiled, nose scrunching up cutely. “A lot.”

“Everyone likes girls, Graham. We’re objectively prettier and more fun to be around,” Megan retorted matter-of-factly. She paused for a moment and looked startled. “But, of course, I accept you! I’m just not a homosexual.”

“Thanks, pompoms,” Graham started with a genuine smile, “but I really don’t think every girl would agree that women are prettier than men. Particularly the straight ones.” Megan went to argue, but Graham cut her off quickly, “It’s not my job to tell you if you’re gay or not. Frankly, it’s none of my business.”

“Well. Thank you.” Megan fiddled with a strand of her hair. “Do other girls really not look at each other like that?” 

“I definitely do, but I’m not a prime example of how straight girls act,” Megan couldn’t hold back a little giggle despite feeling vulnerable. 

Graham smiled at her in a way that makes her feel like she’d just done something extraordinary. But in a no homo way. Obviously. “Maybe do some research into bisexuality and homosexuality. Might help clear some things up. Or just make you feel better.” 

“Why are you being so nice to me?” The words are out of Megan’s mouth before she can stop them.

“Maybe I’m just a nice person.”

“Yeah, right!”

“Rude,” Graham paused, smiling at Megan. Why did that smile always have the power to immediately make her grin back? After a moment, Graham let it slip off her face. “I’m sorry your friends have their heads up their asses.”

“How did your friends react to you being gay?” Megan so desperately wanted to take the focus off of herself. 

“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I don’t really have friends.” Graham ran her hand through her hair nervously. 

“What about that one girl? The goth one that always seems to be hanging onto you?” Megan gasped. “Oh! Is she your girlfriend?” She almost winced as she said the word—which absolutely didn’t make sense because she really did accept Graham liking girls. 

“Sinead? No,” she barked out a laugh. “No, I absolutely am not dating her. We’ll be actual friends when she’s not so obsessed with the idea of being with me.”

“What does that mean?”

Graham sighed and did a little hop to sit on the table. They were now closer than they’d ever been before, in more ways than one. Megan glanced at the chair beside her for a second and mentally shrugged before turning her attention back to the girl. 

“I’m the first gay girl she’s ever met; of course, she thinks we’re destined to be together and wreak havoc and adopt two punk kids.” Graham’s hair fell in her face as she looked down and fiddled with her rings. “She imagines that we’ll have this grand, sweeping romance because I’m the only option she knows is out there. It happens all the time. She’ll get over it when she sees I’m not her only choice, and thank fucking god for that.” 

“You really don’t like her?” Megan couldn’t help but ask. “She’s pretty.”

“I’ll tell her you think so, princess. Maybe she’ll be into you then.” Graham smiled sardonically. 

“Well,” Megan started, desperately trying to get a kind Graham to come back out and play, “that would be tragic for her. Being into two uninterested girls, that is.” 

Graham rolled her eyes but now good-naturedly. 

Megan continued valiantly, “I suppose this means we have to sit together. And, oh god, become friends.” She leaned in towards Graham slightly while speaking, a teasing grin on her face. 

“Wow, pompoms. I can’t believe you’d be prepared to play nice with a punk—and a homo, no less.” Graham tilted her own head down in Megan’s direction before clearing her throat and looking away. 

“Only if you’re prepared to occasionally be nice to me.” 

Graham pretended—hopefully—to consider, hemming and hawing for a moment. “I’ll only be mean when you’re being a priss.”

“Let me guess: that’s pretty much all the time?” Megan joked as she looked warmly up at her new friend.

“You learn pretty quick, pompoms.” Graham’s dimples popped out delightfully as she grinned back. 

 

 

Megan narrowly stopped herself from slamming the front door behind her as she entered her home. It had been a long, exhausting day, filled with random people glaring at her throughout her classes. She could’ve sworn even Mrs. Mary gave her a stink eye when she passed her class. 

Turns out news had traveled quickly. Megan had no idea how to get the truth out there. People had heard the argument or knew someone that had heard the argument or knew someone who knew someone that had heard. 

She said a greeting to her parents but continued walking past them to her room. Megan dreaded the idea of them knowing about the ordeal as well. It was a small town, and word would spread quickly from the high school. 

She shut the door behind her and fell face-first onto her bed with a groan. 

What a nightmare. 

Sure, she’d gotten the occasional supportive smile, which she did hold close to her heart, but it had been a remarkably difficult day. Megan pulled out her phone with a grimace. Two texts.

One was from Graham, sent right in front of Megan as they exchanged numbers—had she really not checked her phone since then? —and the other was from Kimberly. 

I do still care about you. The second you’re ready to date guys again I’ll be glad to hang out. 

It was not exactly the most gracious text Megan had ever gotten. How could Kimberly act like this? Megan hadn’t even said she wasn’t going to date guys again or confirmed she was a lesbian. Because she wasn’t.

But if she was, that text would’ve really hurt.

Chapter Text

When Megan entered Mrs. Mary’s classroom the next day, all eyes turned to look at her—and this time she was sure it wasn’t all in her head. News traveled fast, and she knew they’d all heard the gory details of the fight. God, two days of being the freak show in a row. How long could one girl stand something like this?

 

Graham smiled at her, though. At least Megan had gotten a new friend out of this whole ordeal. Apparently, she’d desperately needed new ones. The pair had spent the night texting back and forth while Megan deliberately ignored Kimberly’s message. 

 

Megan tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear before setting her stuff down at her new desk. Grinning, she pointedly focused all her attention on Graham as the entire classroom watched on. 

 

Being presumed gay really shouldn’t have been a big deal, but it was a small town with only one super openly gay student. Megan thought his name was Andrew or something. 

 

“Hey, pompoms,” Graham leaned over toward Megan’s desk as she spoke. “I guess you’ve become infamous overnight. And here I was thinking the attention yesterday was bad. This would be much more iconic if the rumors were true, I must admit.” 

 

“Oh, you just wish you had all the attention for yourself. I can see you preening when you get into an argument and all eyes are on you.” Megan rolled her eyes playfully as she spoke. 

 

“I can’t help that I look phenomenal on a stage,” Graham shot back with a smirk. 

 

“I’m sick for one day, and you immediately give up my seat?” Megan looked up in shock at the irritated voice. She saw a bat in human form standing behind where Graham was turned in her seat. Sinead. The girl who apparently wanted to adopt two punk kids with Graham. 

 

“Sorry. Group project. You weren’t here.” Graham didn’t sound particularly sorry as she turned to look up at Sinead. 

 

“Maybe you could see if we can have a group of three?” Megan offered up, feeling incredibly awkward. Graham whipped around towards Megan with a look of shock—and betrayal?—on her face. Megan paused. “Oh, wait. Hilary’s partner is Mrs. Mary so you’ll probably be put with her. Sorry.”

 

Sinead both sneered and rolled her eyes which looked a bit silly and over the top in Megan’s humble opinion. Megan watched as she sulked up to the front of the room before turning her attention back to Graham. 

 

“You’d think she’d be a bit nicer to you seeing as how she wants to grow old with you,” she leaned in and whispered. 

 

“What—worried about me?” Graham didn’t bother to whisper. “She said like one sentence to me, pompoms. I don’t think that counts as hostile.”

 

“Hey, don’t be rude! I wasn’t being a priss!”

 

“And I wasn’t being mean.” Graham smiled at her disarmingly. Megan was the one to roll her eyes this time. 

 

Megan’s eyes shot back to the front of the classroom when she heard an over-the-top groan. Sinead dropped in the seat next to Hilary with a huff, glaring at the poor girl. Hilary didn’t look happy about the turn of events either. 

 

“Oh, poor Hilary. She seems really nice.” Megan said sympathetically, pulling out the notebook with their previous work. Graham snickered and pointedly looked at the time—they still had a few minutes before class actually started. Megan shoved her a little, playfully. Her face went red immediately after. Were they on that level of friendship? They’d only really known each other for one (1) day. 

 

Graham’s smile just became a little brighter. Megan slowly managed to let herself relax. 

 

“I think Hilary is just upset that she can’t work with Mrs. Mary anymore.” Graham raised her eyebrows suggestively. 

 

Megan’s furrowed. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Look at her! She’s clearly hot for teacher.” Megan’s mouth dropped open in shock. 

 

Ewwww ,” she squealed, causing several eyes to look back at them. Megan lowered her voice. “Don’t be gross.”

 

“What?” Graham said, suddenly on the offensive. “Her liking a woman makes her gross?” 

 

“Her liking Mrs. Mary would be gross,” Megan said with a shudder, covering the sting of hurt that Graham would think she meant it like that. “Even if she was our age, Mrs. Mary’s so mean. And I think she’s homophobic! She glared at me yesterday after everything.”

 

“I’m sorry, princess.” Graham’s eyes softened. “If it makes you feel any better, she’s been glaring at me for the whole school year so far.” 

 

“No, that absolutely does not make me feel better!” Megan was filled with a rush of rage. She’d been so ignorant of how queer people were mistreated even in her very own school. “How dare she treat her students like this! Someone should tell the principal.”

 

“Wowww,” Graham drawled. “You want to speak to her manager?” 

 

The bell rang and Mrs. Mary immediately started quieting the class. “Alright, everybody, settle down. Before we continue on with our project, I have to discuss what is and is not allowed in my classroom. I was kind enough to let you guys have free reign over your writing, but after reading a little of what you students turned in yesterday, I’ve found that some of you have abused that right.”

 

Megan looked around the room in confusion, wondering who had been stupid enough to write something dirty. 

 

“I will not have anything perverted or inappropriate being written in my classroom. This includes curse words,” she shot a disgustingly playful look at Jared’s group, “graphic violence, and of course, homosexual activity.” She looked pointedly at Graham and Megan. 

 

Their classmates looked back at the pair, some with disgust in their eyes. Megan couldn’t help but lock gazes with Jared. He looked so horrified, but she noticed the hint of relief there too. It must’ve been soothing on the ego to think she had only broken up with him because of her queerness. 

 

Megan couldn’t help but get annoyed. Normally, she wouldn’t ever even let herself think anything disrespectful about a teacher, but they’d only written one paragraph confirming the female character’s bisexuality. The girl had even ended up with a man, for god’s sake. 

 

“Why is someone being bi sexual inappropriate? I wasn’t aware romance was off the table?” Graham spread out in her chair like a wild animal puffing up to prepare itself for battle. 

 

“If it’s not something that a child should read, it’s not something I want in my classroom, Miss Eaton.”

 

“Weird, considering we read Romeo and Juliet,” Graham said, lifting her chin up. “If I remember correctly, there’s violence and sex in that one, not to mention the jokes.” Sinead cackled. 

 

Megan looked at Graham in shock, though she couldn’t deny the pride that runs through her. Graham really didn’t shrink away from defending her beliefs, huh? Megan was honestly kind of jealous. 

 

“Looks like you just got yourself detention. Going for some kind of record there?” Mrs. Mary looked entirely too smug. 

 

“She only means that our story wasn’t explicit or anything, Mrs. Mary.” Megan chimed in, trying to smooth things over. “I’m sure–” 

 

Graham cut her off. “Someone’s gotta try to keep the ignorant bigots around here in check, so it might as well be me, Mary.” Megan’s mouth actually dropped open at that. Graham noticed and raised her eyebrows at Megan once quickly with a slight smile before turning her attention back to her opponent.

 

Mrs. Mary blustered for a moment in shock before controlling herself quickly. “That’s another detention. And I’ll have to tell your father about this, of course.” 

 

Megan watched as Graham sunk within herself, hunching over slightly as she left her fighting position. She looked so unexpectedly vulnerable at that moment that Megan almost reached out to hold her hand. This would have been entirely normal, she reasoned, because she was a naturally physically affectionate person. The whole class was watching, though, and Megan didn’t want to continue to fan the flames. 

 

Hearing the continued silence from the student sat fiddling with her rings, Mrs. Mary smiled victoriously and continued talking about the project for a moment. Slowly, the classroom unfroze and everyone began talking to their friends. 

 

Megan moved her desk against Graham’s and leaned until their arms were touching to whisper to her. “She sounded a bit like Draco Malfoy, right? With her ‘father will hear of this.’” Megan said the last bit in a terrible, whiny British accent. 

 

“Nerd.”

 

“I thought I was a prom queen?” Megan said with faux-innocence, eyes wide and doe-like. Graham managed a small smile and a huff of laughter as she looked at her. Megan was filled with a strange wave of warmth and fondness.

Chapter Text

“So,” Graham’s voice startled Megan out of her thoughts as the girl threw down her bag. How she managed to throw herself in the seat next to Megan at a lone lunch table and make the movement look graceful, Megan would never know. “I thought of a way to make my dad less angry at me when I come home today.” 

 

Graham looked uncharacteristically nervous as she spoke, tucking her hair behind her ear. When she didn’t continue, Megan tilted her head to the side slightly in confusion. “What?” 

 

“Well, you know how you’re this, like, picture-perfect cheerleader with straight ‘A’s and this sweet innocent ‘I’ve never done anything wrong in my life’ vibe? And Christian at that?” Graham bit her lip slightly and looked away. 

 

“You think I’m perfect?” Megan beamed at Graham and nudged her side teasingly. And Graham, well, she actually looked flustered .

 

“I–I was just saying that I think maybe if you came over, it might make him think I’m turning over a new leaf.” She looked down, suddenly seeming unable to meet Megan’s gaze. “You know, that I have a positive influence in my life or something.”

 

“But won’t he know about the whole lesbian thing?” Megan blurted out without thinking. 

 

“What—mine or yours?” 

 

“Well, mine , but if your parents know you’re gay that would make it worse, right?” Megan reached up and fiddled with her cross necklace. 

 

“You know that they’re not actually students here, right? My dad and step mother won’t know. Just wear that little Jesus merch there,” she gestured vaguely at Megan’s cross, “and you’ll be golden.”

 

“You’re such a brat,” Megan said fondly. “And I refuse to take the blame if this goes wrong.”

 

“So you’ll come?” Graham's voice was filled with so much warmth and hope. 

 

“I can’t believe you saddled me with that kiss-ass, Graham,” Sinead complained as she sat down at the table in a huff. “And now we’re sitting with Little Miss Prom Queen?” She groaned dramatically.

 

“You don’t have to sit with us, Sinead,” Graham responded slightly snottily. Megan nudged her without thinking, silently reprimanding her.

 

Sinead took in the small act of intimacy with a sneer. “What, are you two already fucking?”

 

“‘Already’?” Megan repeated, eyes wide. 

 

“Why do you always have to stir shit up?” Graham scowled at Sinead mercilessly. 

 

“Why do you have to side with this fucking Barbie against me? We’re friends aren’t we?” Sinead slammed the table next to Graham in a move that made Megan jump a little. 

 

“Maybe we’d be better friends if you’d spare me the internalized misogyny. Can’t we just collectively move past that phase?” Graham leaned further towards Megan when Sinead moved closer. 

 

Without thinking, Megan said, “Oh, hey! I know that one!”

 

The inane comment seemed to break through Graham’s anger for a moment, and she hung her head and laughed slightly under her breath before looking at Megan. She should’ve seemed incredibly condescending at that moment, but all Megan could see on her face was encouragement and fondness. And a little condescension. Just a tad. “I’m glad,” she said softly. 

 

“I’m not a misogynist. I just—I—I think it’s completely ridiculous that this random girl could come in and ruin our friendship so fucking fast.”

 

“Language,” a miscellaneous teacher reprimanded as she walked past their table. 

 

Megan mentally giggled a little at the way all three of them went silent until the teacher was deemed far enough away. 

 

“Listen, Sinead,” Graham’s voice was suddenly not actively hostile, “I don’t like the side of you that’s come out at the idea of me being friends with Megan. She’s really cool, and I’m planning on keeping her around for a while. So, let me know when you’re capable of being nice to her, and we can chill again, okay?”

 

Both Sinead and Megan’s mouths fell open at the way Graham had cut off Sinead so casually. 

 

Tears welled up in Sinead’s eyes even as she spoke with vitriol in her voice, “She’s not going to put out, you know. All this will be for nothing.”

 

Now Megan’s face was shocked and red. This definitely felt like a conversation she shouldn’t be present for, somehow. 

 

Graham looked incredibly angry. “Shockingly, that’s not the only reason I choose to spend time with people. Maybe your life would be a bit happier if you could say the same.”

 

“Oh, fuck you,” Sinead gathered up her things and stormed away. 

 

Graham and Megan were both silent for a few beats, and Megan tried desperately to think of something to say. 

 

Twisting one of her rings nervously, Graham spoke. “I’m not—I don’t—That’s not why I’m your friend, you know. I genuinely like talking to you.”

 

Megan smiled, finally thinking of a way to break the tension. “Wow, compliments and defending my honor? Where did that bad girl persona go?”

 

Graham laughed warmly, glancing down for a moment before reestablishing eye contact with Megan. For some reason, she could feel her cheeks heat up under the gaze. “You just don’t deserve to have her say that shit about you.”

 

“Thank you, Graham,” Megan said sincerely, placing her hand on top of Graham’s for a moment. She could feel the cool metal of the rings against her skin before pulling away again. No need to add fire to the gay rumor flames. “I guess I kinda did have another lunchtime showdown today, huh? Maybe I really should’ve charged admission.”

 

“Hey, I think this time it counts as my drama, Megan, so the profit should really be all mine,” Megan noticed the way Graham kept glancing down at her own hand. 

 

Still, she giggled and hit Graham on the arm very lightly in protest. “Trying to rob me blind, I see.”

 

“Never,” Graham shot back with a wink and a charming grin. Megan was going to pass away. 



 

 

“You don’t drive? Are you sure you’re not gay?” Graham said as she led Megan through the parking lot to her car. 

 

“Is that a stereotype?” Megan asked curiously, as she glanced around trying to guess which car could be Graham’s.

 

“Sure, it is! More common with gay men, though, I think,” Graham pulled her keys out of her pocket with ease, absently spinning them around a finger. “If you look ahead, you’ll see the embodiment of a classic lesbian stereotype.”

 

Megan opened her mouth to ask, but Graham cut her off with a grand, dramatic gesture toward a pickup truck before throwing her bag in the back. “The truck?” Megan asked, confused.

 

“Yup,” Graham said as she unlocked the door and climbed in gracefully. “Don’t know why, but it tends to be a thing.”

 

“Why’d you get one?” Megan got into the passenger seat more clumsily—ignoring the quick “do you need a hand, princess?” she received for her struggle—and set her backpack at her feet. Graham eyes it with an eyebrow raised but doesn’t comment. 

 

“Because it’s a lesbian thing,” Graham said with a crooked smile as she buckled up and looked at Megan expectantly. With a start, Megan realized she’d forgotten her seatbelt and scrabbled to get it buckled. “Wow, I can’t believe I caught Miss Prepared slipping.”

 

“Oh, stop,” Megan blushed.

 

Graham’s smile grew stronger, and her dimples made an appearance even as she looked in her mirrors and reversed out of the parking spot. “So, just to check that I’m not actually kidnapping you: you did get permission from your parents to come home with me today, right?”

 

“Yeah,” Megan replied, fiddling absentmindedly with her cross. “I said it was for our project, so my dad said it was okay, but apparently he wants to talk about something important when I get home. Do you think it’s about the gay thing?”

 

“I’m not going to lie to you, pompoms, it might be.” Graham glanced at Megan from the corner of her eye. “Did he sound upset?”

 

“Well, it was through text, but he seemed pretty normal? Just kind of nervous, but that’s honestly not out of the ordinary.” Megan gnawed on her lip worriedly. 

 

“So maybe everything is fine?” Megan made a noncommittal noise in response as Graham maneuvered her truck out of the school parking lot. The sunlight hit her face in a way that made her freckles stand out and her skin glow before she pulled down the sun visor. Not that Megan noticed. 

 

“Hopefully.”

 

When Graham noticed Megan didn’t seem in a good place to talk, she unlocked her phone and tossed it to Megan. It wasn’t until it was in Megan’s hands that she realized it was attached to the AUX. “Play something good, okay?” Graham said challengingly, wiggling her eyebrows. 

 

Part of Megan wanted to crumble under the pressure and the seemingly inherent shame of sharing an interest with someone else, but it was just Graham. She’d play whatever she wanted to play, and if Graham didn’t like it she could always change it. 

 

When the first notes of a Taylor Swift album started playing, Graham quickly glanced at the screen in surprise before grinning. “Yeah, I can jam to this.” 

 

Much to Megan’s shock, Graham actually started singing along. Noticing Megan’s wide-eyed gaze, she laughed and said, “It’s not my go-to album of hers, but come on; it’s Taylor Swift . Don’t put me in a box, princess.”

 

Smiling widely, Megan joined in until they were screaming the lyrics on the top of their lungs, each trying to one-up the other with dramatics. Megan did have the advantage of not being the one actively keeping them alive, but Graham managed to hold her own. 

 

At a red light, Megan was caught staring at Graham when she looked over with a red face and beaming grin. Instead of fading, her smile seemed to grow larger as they held eye contact. It struck Megan that that was the happiest she’d been in a long time.

Chapter Text

Megan had to admit that she hadn’t been paying very close attention to her surroundings, so when the pair pulled up to a grand gate, with a very grand house behind it, Megan’s mouth dropped open slightly in shock. She managed to close it before Graham turned back from entering the code, but apparently, the surprise was still evident on her face. 

 

Graham snickered as she took it in. “Something wrong?” She smirked even as raised her eyebrows with a hint of challenge. 

 

“Well, I—I wasn’t expecting this if I’m honest,” Megan tried to regain her composure, “but apparently, I should be calling you princess, Graham.” 

 

Graham rolled her eyes slightly as she pulled her car through the open gate and along the driveway that stretched along, seemingly blind to the beautiful landscaping. Megan supposed it was because Graham had seen it all a thousand times before, but she didn’t let her friend’s lack of interest dissuade her from turning towards the window and taking in the view. 

 

The grass was green, greener than it should be really, and the trees were aflame with seasonal attire. Megan wasn’t used to seeing trees actually change color and absently wondered how much money had been spent on trees, of all things. There were flowers everywhere and honest to god hedges shaped like animals. Megan didn’t want to even think about how much water a garden like this needed. 

 

“Did your parents just google ‘fancy rich house’ and go from there?” Megan turned back towards Graham as they pulled up to a ridiculously massive garage and felt her face flush instantly when she realized she was being stared at. Graham ducked her head and cleared her throat, obviously pretending that Megan hadn’t just caught the soft little smile pointed her way. 

 

“My stepmom probably still has the tab open and everything,” Graham said as she pulled into the last slot in the garage at the very end. If Megan knew anything about cars, she’s sure the array would be incredibly impressive. The others made Graham’s truck look dinky in comparison, but Megan found she would always choose to be in this passenger seat. 

 

Graham’s voice barely contained her anger when she spoke, “I’m lucky they even let me park it in here.” 

 

“If they were so opposed, why would they let you get it at all?” Megan asked as climbed out of the car and followed Graham’s lead toward the exit. 

 

“They said I could have any car I wanted, and this is what I chose. It’s also an excellent thing to take away from me when I’ve misbehaved, apparently,” Graham complained as she held open the door for her to pass through. This made Megan blush for some reason (which she was entirely unwilling to unpack, thank you very much), and she ducked her head as she walked the path to the house. She only hoped it would hide her flushed face well enough. 

 

“Well, I’m glad they let you pick!” Megan said in a perky voice, trying to lighten Graham’s suddenly dark mood. She was learning that talk of Graham’s father and stepmother could ruin even The Best Car Ride (Taylor’s Version). “I much prefer your truck. She’s not as stuck up as the others seem.”

 

“She?” Graham said as she fell in step beside Megan, head tilting to the side to look at her. Megan was glad she’d managed to get her blush under control.

 

“Are you going to look me in the eyes and tell me you’d ride anything but a girl?”

 

Graham’s mouth fell open in shock. “ Megan !” She playfully admonished her with a stunned laugh.

 

Instantly, Megan’s face turned red, brighter than before and radiating heat. “ No ! I just meant—I meant that, like, you don’t seem to have any guy friends, and so I thought you wouldn’t want your car to be a girl? I didn’t mean—I mean—”

 

“Okay, sure, if I had chosen to gender my car, I’d’ve probably picked she/her pronouns for it too,” Graham finally cut in, thankfully. Megan probably would have kept rambling nervously until her heart gave out and she had to walk into the hydrangeas to lay down and die. 

 

“Ooooh, what if we used she/they?” Megan couldn’t help but show off the fact that she’d been doing some research as of late. What? Couldn’t a gal want her new pal to be proud of her? 

 

Graham beamed over at Megan and nudged her slightly to show that it hadn’t gone unnoticed before responding with a laugh, “We’re not using any pronouns other than ‘it’ for her.” Megan cackled and pumped her fist. “...Shit.”

 

Megan leaned in close to Graham to boast to her fullest capability. “I win! They’re probably even going to get a name and everything by the end of the day.”

 

“What makes you think you have the power to name my truck, princess?” Graham said as she rolled her eyes dramatically and turned her head to face the girl who had attached herself to Graham’s side. She seemed to notice too late how close together this put their faces. Megan paused, taking in each freckle, each eyelash, even the shape of Graham’s lips. Everything was so near, and her eyes couldn’t help but feast on it all.

 

Graham cleared her throat and delicately removed herself from Megan’s personal space. God, what was even happening to her? She wasn’t dumb, but with each passing moment, she felt less and less self-aware. How could the people around her see this coming so clearly so far ahead of her? 

 

It was, however, reassuring to see a hint of color on Graham’s face, try as she might to be cool and unflappable. 

 

Graham opened the doors to her home with a flourish, clearly being more over the top to cut through the tension that had formed so rapidly. “Welcome! Come on in! Just be sure not to breathe too much; you might disturb the very expensive art.” 

 

“I get that you were trying to be all angsty, but that wasn’t your best snarky comment,” Megan said with a smile. She tried to hide her nerves as she waded into the uncharted waters, knowing with complete certainty that here be dragons. 

 

“Well, they can’t all be winners can they?” Graham grumbled as she slammed the doors behind them and ran her hands through her hair. 

 

“Graham? Is that you? Come here this instant!” A shrill voice echoed through the foyer. 

 

Megan barely had time to take in the grand staircase and beautiful flowers and dazzling chandelier before Graham muttered “kill me now” under her breath and grabbed Megan’s hand, dragging her towards the voice. 

 

Megan’s nerves rose further, but she had had time to prepare for this since Graham’s request earlier that day. She swallowed and dragged her free hand down her skirt to wipe off any sweat. Her hand shook as she then reached up to straighten her cross. Graham noticed despite her quick pace and slowed, turning to her and offering a soothing “You’re going to be wonderful.” Megan smiled tightly and followed Graham into a sitting room.

 

A blonde woman draped across a couch angled the phone she was speaking into from her mouth and said to Graham, “Be quiet. Stay there. I’ll only be a moment.” She turned her attention back to her phone immediately, completely missing Megan where she stood silently slightly behind Graham. “Yes, darling, she just got home. Yes, I’ll let her know that this kind of behavior is completely unacceptable. And you should’ve heard her walking in! Slamming the doors without a care in the world! Yes! Alright. I love you too, darling. See you tonight.” She made a kissy noise into the phone then hung up, blank-faced. 

 

“Considering that I probably heard most of the speech, I think I’ll just…” Graham turned as if to walk away.

 

“Don’t you dare. ” The woman shrieked. Graham looked back at her reluctantly and slid over to lean on the doorframe with her hands in her pockets. “Don’t think you’ll be able to drive your disgusting little truck for a while after the stunt you pulled today! You’re lucky that—” The woman cut herself off the second she noticed Megan standing there, nervously fiddling with some of her perfectly neat hair. Her tone of voice immediately changed. “Oh, hello, dear! I’m so sorry about that; you’ve really caught me at a terrible time!” She stood gracefully.

 

“I’m so sorry to intrude, ma’am,” Megan demurred, knowing her role by heart. 

 

“No, no, I simply love visitors. Even if they’re Graham’s friends. Kidding, kidding!” The woman’s laugh sounded fake to Megan’s ears, but then, she was, perhaps, biased. “I’m Mrs. Eaton. It’s wonderful to meet you, dear. However did our little Graham convince such a nice young lady to come back with her?”

 

Megan mentally stumbled over the fact that Graham’s stepmom hadn’t asked for her name in return but quickly recovered. “We have a project together.”

 

“Well, it is such a blessing to have you here. I love love love that necklace! It’s so nice to see a friend of Graham’s wear the cross the right way ‘round for once!” She laughed loudly at her own joke. “I think that gothy friend of hers is a witch, honest to god! Anyway, make yourself at home! Do you need something to drink? I can go fix drinks?” Mrs. Eaton barely paused for breath. “Graham, you’ll drive her home later, right? The darling thing shouldn’t have to worry about finding a ride or any such nonsense.” 

 

Graham rolled her eyes and said, “Duh.”

 

Megan cut in. “Thank you so much, Mrs. Eaton. And thank you for the offer of drinks, but I’m really not thirsty. I appreciate it, though.”

 

“Oh, very polite. Graham could stand to learn a thing or two from you.” She laughed like it was a joke, even though she clearly meant it. “Well, I suppose you girls have a lot of schoolwork to do. I’ll let you go on upstairs.” Graham turned to leave. “Oh, and Graham? Your father will have a word with you when he gets home.”

 

Graham paused but then continued with her retreat, “Come on, Megan. Let’s go.” 

 

Megan looked at Graham storming away before glancing back at the stepmother and shooting her a quick, “It was nice to meet you, ma’am!” Then, she hurried after Graham immediately. 

 

She managed to hear Mrs. Eaton mutter “fucking kids” as she scurried away.