"All I'm saying is that we really must put all this behind us, my dear," Catherine said earnestly.

Moira glared at her. "Don't call me that, Catherine."

"I'm sorry, my – Moira. What I meant was, we'll be the only two girls left behind in this form from North Tower next year, and we really should try to find some way of working together, for the sake of the form. And our friendship, too."

Moira resisted the urge to reach out and shake Catherine thoroughly. She was so pious and noble and humble and righteous. What a little martyr. She wondered, not for the first time, how she had ever thought that – well, that she and Catherine could be friends. To think she'd let Catherine privy to her most intimate thoughts, and even told her – oh, that had been foolish, terribly foolish, and she didn't even want to think about it. It was the sort of soppiness she accused the other girls in the form of being so fond of, and she was ashamed that she'd followed their example when it came to Catherine. All that hand-holding and embracing, the sort of thing that was really quite unnecessary, and really quite inappropriate in school, to say the least, and she had let herself waver in these beliefs all because Catherine had suggested that it would be nice to demonstrate their affections the way the other girls did, and that perhaps she'd just been so uncomfortable before because she hadn't had a special friend.

In some ways she was relieved not to be going up into the sixth form with the other girls who had seen what a perfect fool she'd made of herself over Catherine, but it was at the same time galling to be left behind in the fifth with her.

"You're right," she said shortly, and glanced away before she could see the expression on Catherine's face at this. She didn't want to see the smugness, or worse, the simpering gratitude. "We'll have to pull together next term. It doesn't mean that things can go back to the way they were –"

"Oh, of course not, Moira, I never meant to suggest that –"

"– but we might as well try to make the best of it," she finished, wondering how on earth she was ever going to survive even another week in the company of Catherine.

Catherine smiled beatifically, and moved towards her as if to give her a last, parting embrace. Moira failed to move away in time, and was enveloped by those arms. She scowled into Catherine's shoulder, wondering why it still felt comforting to be held like this, even if it was by such a wretched girl as Catherine.

fin