She thinks she sees it.
Something in the glint of his smile, the way his laughter makes her want to join in. Subtle little things, things that make her feel (almost) whole again, after all the months she’s spent alone just trying to pretend that she’ll be okay. He was always outside the circle of drama, and now he had become her rock. Her rock of strength, of unwavering support and humor, of tricks and pranks and any way to make her smile that gorgeous smile of her’s that she seemed to never use now.
And it worked. Miraculously, he had done what they had all tried – he had genuinely come to care for her. She could tell be the certain way his lips quirked up more than usually when he saw her, the way he was always trying to sit closer to her, the way he worried about every little paper cut or bruise she seemed to acquire (and, being a klutz and a fierce hockey player, she got them frequently). It made her want to be better. To not be the annoying, complaining person she seemingly had become.
So she tries.
She tries so hard to better, for him. Everything she does, from tests to the dreaded Mile Run in Phys. Ed., she has to excel in. A 98% isn’t acceptable; she needs to have 100%. Her reasoning? If she isn’t good enough for their stupid tests and even stupider contests, then how can she be good enough for him? How could someone so far down on the totem pole as she be anywhere’s near good enough for him?
It only serves to make his grin a little wider. Silly girl, he wants to say, don’t you know you’re beautiful? He hugs her close, savoring every moment they can share together in this hectic world. The days fly by, and the quicker they go the tighter he holds onto what they have.
He doesn’t want to let go of her.
And she doesn’t want to let the greatest thing in her life slip through her fingertips. Although being timid and shy as she’s become in the past months of solitude, she feels the familiar feeling bubbling in her gut. Impulse. “Do you mind if I love you?” she asks him one day as they lay on the picnic tables and stare into the brilliant blue sky.
Opening a lazy eye with cat-like grace, he regards her with a curious smile on his face. “Do you mind if I love you?” Laughter escapes her lips before she can hold them in, and the curious smile takes on a hint of panic. “What? Did that just sound stupid?”
She thinks it’s the greatest thing she’s heard in a long time.
[So it's clear, this take place about 2 to 3 months after Part II.]