Very Very Gay

"He's also very, very gay." Annabelle's final comment might almost have been an after thought. Except Kelly saw the way she leaned forward to emphasize the point, turning the word into a dagger. Flash cringed and let out a frustrated groan but it was too late to back down. He mumbled some final words and skulked away before either girl could make any further comment. Once Kelly heard the door to the roof slam she gave into the laughter that had been choking in her throat. Annabelle echoed her, both of them collapsing against each other's sides.

"You really have a cruel streak, don't you?" Kelly gasped for air and wiped at her eyes, clearing any eyeliner that might've smudged.

"If he'd just agreed right off I never would've told him but he was being stubborn." Fritton defended herself. She'd felt a spike of fury at the way Flash had just folded like a tissue as soon as Kelly's voice arrived on the roof. It was amazing he didn't just slip in his own puddle of drool. Annabelle couldn't blame him for being in love with Kelly but she sure as hell didn't have to put up with watching him shag her with his eyes.

"Fair enough. I usually just sick the Totties on him when I'm pissed. He can't last four minutes before he has to bolt. Bit of a short fuse on him, if you get my drift." Kelly bumped her shoulder meaningfully and Annabelle's face colored a hint. Not beet red - not like it would've a few days ago.

"Why do you put up with it? Surely there're other fences you could use. Someone that isn't always trying to get in the girls' knickers."

"That's just it. We have Flash right where we like him," She waggled her little finger, "Someone who wasn't here in the desperate hope of sex wouldn't dare half what he tries."

Annabelle nodded, accepting the explanation. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes, watching the girls out in the fields below. The roof was the best place to be when the twins were practicing with explosives. Kelly watched Fritton out of the corner of her eye. She carried herself differently these days, she was finally comfortable in her own skin. It was like watching metal shape before her eyes, the way the girl got stronger every day. It wasn't just the Fritton stripe. Kelly grew more certain every day that this was the real Annabelle, one that had always existed but had somehow almost been erased.

She'd started wondering about it the day of the match against Cheltenham. The way Annabelle's tone had dripped with acidic hate on her words 'I used to eat people.' The distaste and irritation had been a hint of the real girl but it'd been swallowed up so fast in fear and embarrassment. Kelly could tell that school had nearly broken her. She was dying to know what had happened. Who she could punish.

"My turn for a quiz," she broke the silence and Annabelle turned to face her, "Don't you mind us stealing your dad's money? Half a bar is a lot and otherwise it would end up yours."

"Please. Daddy has more than enough, this scam is going to hurt his pride more than his pocketbook. Besides, odds are he'll lose every cent long before I have a chance to inherit so it's better at least this much is put to good use. Plus," Annabelle gazed into the middle distance for a moment, "I think this place makes for a much better legacy."

"That does it. Now you're going to have to be Headmistress one day."

"Not the worst fate. Not right off, of course. There's too much to do in the world. But someday. I can think of worse things than spending my life here."

Kelly openly stared. She really meant it. There wasn't a trace of mockery or sarcasm in her tone. She was looking out over the grounds with genuine affection. This was where she belonged. She looked so perfectly at home that Kelly suddenly had trouble imagining what the school would be like without her. How had she ever gone anywhere else?

"I can't believe you wasted all that time at Cheltenham." she shook her head. It was a pity anyone had to suffer through that school but putting Annabelle there should've been a crime.

"I'm just glad I got away." she smiled.

"How did you?" Kelly couldn't stop the question, even though she saw her companion tense up, "What happened there?"

The words had been rattling in her head so much that she just couldn't stop them spilling out. She might've made her interest sound distant and clinical, but inside she was nearly frothing with curiosity.

"It's a bit of a complicated story." Annabelle sighed but didn't try to look away.

"Just the kind I like." Kelly leaned back, getting comfortable. She didn't get to hear it though, because the alert had gone off. Black Eagle! The shouts came from all over the grounds and everyone was running in.

Both girls leapt to their feet, spotting the approaching vehicles.

"Damn. Looks like a press van!" Kelly groaned and raced from the roof.

"Just Thwaites' style." Annabelle grumbled as she followed. They'd had drills along these lines - she hadn't fully understood why until this moment.

"You get the west wing, yeah?" Kelly ordered as they bolted down the stairs.

"Got it!" they split at the ground floor and headed opposite directions.

"Regroup in the plan room!" Jones' final shout followed her down the corridor.