The classroom was colorful. The walls were a faded yellow but the posters half hanging from them were a rainbow across the packed space. The desks and chairs had once been painted but even the chipped and stained paint brought the room into a positive place.
The only thing bringing down the room was Courtney's mood.
At eight years old Courtney was popular. From the twenty-three other kids in her class she considered herself to be friends with nineteen of them, and the other four she could say at least liked her enough to give her cards on this tragic day.
She sat through her lessons, her head in her hands as the rest of the class buzzed around her.
One more day until summer vacation
One more day until Courtney's life as she knew it ended.
Three weeks ago, to the day, Courtney remembered her parents sitting her down in the family room of her grandmother's house.
"Courtney, we have something to tell you," her mom had said gently. Her parent's hands rested twined together on her mothers' knee and Courtney screwed her face together in confusion.
When Cody's parents had said they had something to tell him they had a new baby. Courtney didn't want a new baby.
And when Heather's parents said they had something to tell her, her dad moved into a different house. Courtney didn't want her dad to live somewhere else.
There was no new baby and they were staying together really, just not in the home that Courtney had known her whole life. The one with the white picket fence and pink walls of her bedroom; the one with the tyre swing in the garden tree and her height chart against the pantry door. No, they would be in a new home three hundred and fifty miles from where Courtney wanted to be.
She threw a tantrum; legs kicking and lungs bellowing until she could feel herself shaking with tears. Until she realised her parents had their minds set on a new house so very far away from her home.
So, she decided she wasn't going with them. Until they started packing up her bedroom.
So, she decided to ignore the situation. If she didn't think about moving then she wouldn't move, right? Until it was the final day of school for the year and the moving truck was coming first thing tomorrow morning.
Courtney sighed into her arm, quieter than she had been all year. She turned her head to the desk to her right and her best friends smiling face gleamed at her.
Gwen had taken the news as well as Courtney had with tantrums and disbelief. They'd vowed to never speak of it after Courtney had broken the news, believing in her ignoring-the-situation theory, as Gwen believed in everything Courtney said to her.
But now the day was here, and Courtney's heart was breaking as Gwen smiled at her with good intentions. She was never going to find another best friend like her, who shared her candy when she was hungry and held her hand when they crossed the street, who let her read her long novels when she came over and always let her play as Princess Peach on Mario Kart, even though she was both their favorite.
Courtney didn't want another best friend. Gwen was her best friend and always would be.
The school bell rang at three and Courtney stayed in place. She waited for the rest of her peers to rush for their backpacks and scarper out the door, ready to start their summer vacation. They all talked excitedly, making plans to see each other at the playground, laughing their way out of the school building.
A small hand fell on Courtney's shoulder and she lifted her head to find Gwen beside her again, her purple backpack in her hand. Her dark hair fell into her eyes and she shook her head to dispel it from her vision, her grin widening.
Courtney couldn't help but smile back, her heart full. She took her backpack from Gwen's hands, the inside stuffed with goodbye cards from everyone in the class, and then took her hand to let herself be led from her second-grade classroom, away from her life.
The school yard was starting to empty, and Courtney could easily spot her dad chattering away with Gwen's mom near the green gates. She stopped in her tracks, planting her feet to the ground. It was happening too fast. She was leaving too fast.
Gwen tugged on her hand, a smile on her face to oppose the terror on Courtney's. She was worried she would lead her over to her father, that this would be their last goodbye and she would never live her life beside her best friend again, but Gwen started walking towards the side of the school building.
Courtney watched as she shrugged her school bag off her shoulders and riffled around inside. She drew her hand out clutching two pieces of chalk, one pink, one green. Courtney couldn't not smile. She took the pink piece of drawing chalk from her best friends hand and watched as Gwen wrote her name slowly against the school wall, taking her time to carve out each letter.
She moved back, allowing Courtney space to add her own name and a plus sign between them. She took her time also, mouthing each letter of her name as she scrawled on the brick wall.
When she was finished Gwen stepped back up, adding a third word beneath.
Courtney added a fourth.
Gwen finished with the fifth.
They stood hand-in-hand, looking at their artwork, tears in Courtney's eyes.
"You're my best friend, Courtney," Gwen whispered, squeezing their fingers. "Forever."
"Forever," she repeated, throwing her arms around Gwen in a deep hug.
Their parents found them embracing, sad smiles on the adult's faces. They left them to hug for as long as they needed, and Courtney would have stayed wrapped in Gwen's arms for the rest of her life if her father hadn't patted her on the head, telling her it was time. There were still boxes to pack at home, which Courtney dreaded, even more, going back to now.
She let her father lead her out of the schoolyard, waving her hand at Gwen who now matched Courtney's sad eyes. Tears streamed down her cheek as Gwen moved out of sight and Courtney turned to take a final look at their masterpiece written on the school wall.
Every Friday after school Courtney would furiously scribble her feelings, taking up several pages in her notebook. She would tear them out, careful not to rip the edges, and fold them neatly down the middle, ready for her dad to place in an envelope and take to the post office the next morning.
Usually on Wednesday or Thursday, by the time Courtney got home from school, there was a letter waiting for her on the dining room table, scrawled in her best friends handwriting.
Courtney told Gwen all about her new school, the people in her class, her teachers, what she learnt each week.
She wasn't as good at making friends in her new school and spent most days in the library by herself, getting a head start on homework or discovering new books she thought her best friend would enjoy as well.
Gwen told Courtney all about their school, the gossip of their classmates.
Cody was going to have another baby brother and Heather's dad was marrying a woman who wasn't Heather's mom. Duncan had ended up in detention more than once this year and there was a new boy in their class, Geoff, who Gwen thought Courtney would have liked.
They talked about Mario Kart and Courtney's new school shoes; they talk about their favourite cartoon and Gwen's drawings that she sends some weeks.
Each week Courtney waited excitedly for an update until some weeks she didn't get one at all.
Each week Courtney would sit and write to Gwen until her pen ran out of ink.
Until the end of the following summer when the letters stopped coming altogether.
A/N: I wasn't going to post this today, but the excitement got the better of me!
And what makes this extra special? This is my 200th story on FFn! I can't believe I finally made it to 200!
This was originally going to be Duncney but the more I planned this story, the more Gwen just fit the character way better than Duncan did (you will definitely see why as we delve into this), so here we have some Gwourtney coming for you!
Just in time for Pride month! Happy Pride month!
Casual shoutout to Taylor Swift for once again inspiring me with her lyrics (shoutout if you know what song!)
I hope you guys enjoy this story as much as I have enjoyed mapping it out today. I haven't prewritten this as I did KYEOTS so updates may be a lil more irregular, but please bear with me I am doing my best!