~I was intending to make this a separate fic, but decided to extend this one instead. Enjoy.~

~for my beloved~

I curled on my side, staring into darkness. The more you try not to replay painful scenes in your head, the more they repeat, over and over, until you feel like you will go insane, your sanity killed by multiple wounds., I had thought my bedroom, warm and dark, would be a refuge, but all it did was leave me alone with my thoughts.

I knew I should get up and go do something to distract myself, but depression kept me immobile and helpless. I hated myself, hated my life, hated Jeffrey French, even hated Ms. Dalton. The only person I couldn't really hate was Elizabeth, no matter how much the dark corner of my heart thought she deserved it.

I heard the door creak open and felt rather than saw light fall across me. I squeezed my eyelids tight, hoping Mom would take the hint and go away, knowing she wouldn't. I'd fled to my room too many times before, and come down drunk or drugged, for her to let me be alone this time.

It was just another thing to hate myself for, all the grief I had put my own mother through. I would never do that again, never destroy myself no matter how much things hurt, and she trusted me, but I couldn't blame her for worrying. She loved me, and I loved her.

Still, I couldn't bear to talk to her about this. It was too personal, too raw.

The person standing at the door cleared her throat at last. "Enid?"

Not my mother. A young voice, light and bell-like. Hers. I would recognise it if I was in my grave and she spoke above me. Infatuation works like that.

"Enid, your mother said you were sick." Elizabeth sounded worried, but only lightly, as if I had forgotten my homework or something. Of course, she would die over something like that. "And I know you're not asleep, so you might as well stop pretending," she added, more sharply. "We need to talk."

Liz always needed to talk, I reflected bitterly. She didn't understand that some things should just be let alone, not made worse by post-mortem. I didn't look forward to having my most intimate feelings nicely slit open and pulled out to see what went wrong.

I had to say something.

"Mom shouldn't have let you up here." My voice sounded harsh from tears, almost a stranger's voice.

"She was worried about you," Liz said, reproachfully. It figured - my mother adored Liz. She couldn't have been more different from my old friends, after all. Well-behaved, smart and popular - just like I was now, except for the popularity, of course. A golden girl. What she had always wanted for a daughter herself. And as for me, I was too infatuated to even resent it. I stared at the darkness behind my eyelids, where the red lights flashed.

"Enid, please talk to me...I'm your best friend, aren't I?"

"Still?" I couldn't take it anymore. I had to see her.

I couldn't quite make out her features, with the light from the hallway behind her, illuminating that silky blonde hair like a halo and making those big blue eyes of hers look like pooled shadows. She was wearing one of her favourite dresses, white broidery anglaise with little pearl buttons running up to its high neck, the kind of prim, unfashionable outfit her twin wouldn't be seen dead in.

It made her look like an angel dropped straight out of heaven.

"I'm still your best friend. If you want me to be," Elizabeth amended softly. She stepped into the room without invitation, pulling it closed behind her. There was a moment of blissful darkness, and then my bedside lamp clicked on, as Liz took a seat on the edge of my bed, looking down at me. "Why were you avoiding me?"

"You were with Jeffrey." I didn't want to look at her. She was too beautiful, her expression too sweet and sympathetic, everything I had lost too damn close. I watched my hands instead, clenching and unclenching on the bedspread. "I understood."

"What exactly did you understand?" There was a note in her voice I didn't recognise.

"That I'd ruined everything. Please go away -" I choked down on a treacherous sob.

She was quiet for a moment, but she didn't leave. "Enid, why did you run out on me Saturday? You did - that - with me, and walked out without a backwards glance, and then never came near me again. You -" She drew in her breath, shudderingly. "Was it because you thought I'd go to Switzerland and you'd never have to face me again?"

That did it. I burst into tears. I tried to say something, stammer some apology and make everything alright again, but I couldn't catch my breath. The sobs stuck in my chest, hurting, but the pain was almost a relief.

The next thing I knew, I'd been pulled up to lie in Elizabeth's arms, nestled against her like she was my mother, one arm cradling me close while her other hand stroked my hair. "It's okay, honey. I understand."

"You do?" I managed, looking up at her.

"I was terrified too." She crushed me close, and I hung on for dear life, hoping that this really was the miracle and I wasn't misunderstanding. "I couldn't ring you. I went over and over in my head, all the different conversations we could have, and I didn't know what to say. You walked off and left me, Enid. Don't do that again. ever." She sounded close to tears herself. I couldn't bear that I had hurt her like that.

"I was scared." I didn't know what else to say.

"I know, baby." She kissed the top of my head, and something inside me melted, permanently. All I could do was cling tight. "Me too."

After a while, she sighed and straightened up. "I broke up with Jeffrey."

"Why?" I hoped it meant what I thought it did, but I was still waiting for this to be snatched away.

"Why do you think?" Her arms tightened around me. "I told him I was in love with someone else."

My heart was singing in my ears. But there was still guilt, just a little. Jeffrey was my friend. We'd spent the last two weeks making a memory-book of Sweet Valley for Elizabeth, together. And then, unthinkably, I'd stolen her from him. And I'd die rather than give her back, so I guessed I would just have to get used to having stolen her. "How's he feeling?" I asked tentatively.

"He's a little upset." He voice was as tight as her grip on me. Elizabeth never liked dealing with unpleasant things, and she could guilt-trip herself worse than even I could. Not that she didn't do exactly what she wants almost as often as Jessica - she just agonised endlessly about it, while Jessica was born with an irrecoverably impaired conscience.

"I'm sorry." I said, not knowing how far I meant it.

"You're so sweet, Enid." She buried her face in my shoulder. She smelled pure and old-fashioned, like rose-scented soap. "I love you," she whispered.

I'd never thought to hear it from Elizabeth, not in that way. She'd told me she loved me often enough before, but in such blindingly obvious platonic affection that it had hurt almost as much as it had made me happy. But now, being held in the darkness, with her lips against the crook of my neck. It was hard to realise my heart was still beating.

"I love you too. So much, Liz, always."

"I should have realised," she whispered. And then we were kissing, her mouth even sweeter than I had remembered, silky and wet and loving. Mine. My Elizabeth. For a dizzy moment, I thought I would die.

"Move over," she said, when I reluctantly gave in to the need to breathe, and she settled on the bed next to me, our arms around each other's waists. Those beautiful blue-green eyes held mine, very soft and luminous in the half-light.

"I never would lie on the same bed as one of my boyfriends," she said eventually, sounding rather self-conscious. "It always seemed to be promising too much. But I slept with you on so many sleepovers, and never thought anything about it."

"Because it doesn't count with a girl?"

"Because I trust you."

"Oh," I said dully, wondering what that meant. That our time in the pool would be the only one? I didn't care, I told myself. I would be honourable and chaste, if that was what she demanded of me. To be allowed to hold and love and kiss her, that was everything. I didn't need anything more, not yet.

"And I love you, Enid." She kissed me again, harder this time, lips pressing against mine, short fierce kisses, over and over, until I was breathless.

"Hey, Enid?" she said at last.

Much as I loved her, sometimes I wished Liz didn't need to discuss absolutely everything. But I would do whatever she wanted. "Mmm?" I forgot my resolutions of chastity, and kissed her throat. She responded as she had only two days ago, gasping and flinging her head back.

"Darling. darling, stop a moment."

I was happy enough to hear her call me darling that even surrendering that soft tanned skin was possible. "Yes, sweetheart?"

"You're the sweetheart." Her eyes melted, and for a moment I thought she was going to forget talk and kiss me again. But her nature won out, and her lips pressed together firmly for a second. "Enid, do you think." She was very flushed, and not just because I'd been kissing her neck, I thought. "Saturday, do you think." She looked away suddenly. "Do you think I'm still a virgin?"

I tried not to gape at her. I knew I'd been the first to touch her intimately, I suspected I'd been the first even to really kiss her, but I hadn't thought of it in quite those terms. Counting bases was something for boys. And it would, I realised with a cold plunge of my stomach, be very very important to Elizabeth. She was that kind of girl. I would have been, too, given a different past.

"I don't know," I said, honestly.

She caressed the side of my face. "I like the idea that you were my first. Perhaps, we should make sure of it?" She was trying to keep her voice light, but it shook.

I could think of literally nothing to say to that, so I kissed her instead.