As the week went on, and the party grew ever closer, things between Maddy and Felix showed no sign of improvement. Since the disastrous music lesson on Monday morning, Maddy had been avoiding him at all costs. She would arrive early to their shared lessons so that she could sit with someone else. She would eat lunch elsewhere than their usual spot, so that he could not come looking for her. If she passed him in a corridor, she would pointedly and purposefully look the other way. Her anger at his thoughtless words had not abated. Several times during the start of the week he had made as if to apologise, but Maddy was still too furious with him to hear it and, since then, he seemed to have given up.
Liv, it seemed, was trapped in the middle. At first, upon being told what had happened, she too was most upset by what Felix had said. However, ever the diplomat, Liv had consulted with Felix and, learning that he was sorry and that he had not really meant it, she had forgiven him. Now, she was caught between the warring pair, flitting between them both in an attempt to make peace. Maddy knew she was only trying to help, yet she couldn't quite disguise her impatience with her forgive and forget' attitude.
You let him off the hook far too easily, Maddy said irritably, as they left the auditorium together after Thursday's rehearsal. It had not been a particularly productive practice. They had been split into their sections to rehearse their individual parts and Maddy had been seated across the stage from Felix and his fellow cellists. His apparent aloofness had irritated her - she could not imagine why he was not as distressed or angry as she was. Her consequential temper had resulted in some very aggressive playing and, eventually, a broken string, which had only incensed her more.
You keep saying that, muttered Liv, in a near-exasperated tone. It was my choice to forgive him for what he said. We both know he didn't mean it. You're just being stubborn on purpose.
I am not! replied Maddy hotly, as the pair rounded a corner onto the main corridor. She was about to make a cutting remark on how Felix was completely deserving of her anger when he joined the corridor from the other side. They spotted one another and both stopped dead in their tracks, whilst the air around them thickened with instant tension. Maddy bristled and, just for a moment, she was filled with the urge to wipe the inexorably confident expression right off his face.
Maddy, Liv murmured quietly. Don't you think this would be a good chance to-
Oh no, Maddy interjected, pointedly. No, he's had plenty of time to make the effort to fix things. If you think I'm listening now, you're mad.
You wouldn't listen before! Felix barked from across the corridor. I've tried and I've tried Maddy, but you just won't let me! Why should I keep wasting my breath?!
Maddy knew there was an element of truth to his words, but she didn't care. He could have found a way of making himself heard, if he'd really wanted to he simply hadn't tried hard enough.
I'm not doing this now, she muttered. I've better things to do than stand around here. Come on, Liv.
Maddy turned her back on Felix, annoyed that he'd still not said he was sorry after such a simple opportunity. She reached out to take Liv's arm, but was surprised when the girl pulled it away roughly.
No! Liv shouted, with such a force that Maddy stopped dead, bewildered. I've had enough of this silly bickering! she went on, glowering from Maddy to Felix and then back again. This has been dragged out for far too long and I'm absolutely sick of it. You're going to sort this out right now!
Liv, Maddy began, but Liv was having none of it.
Now, she repeated, in such a low and deadly tone that Maddy was quite concerned.
Fine, she conceded, quietly. She glanced across to Felix, who was simply staring at the carpet, his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched in defeat.
Good, said Liv, firmly. Let's go into courtyard then. It should be empty at this time of day.
Feeling awkward and defeated, Maddy allowed Liv to lead her and Felix outside into the courtyard. She didn't make eye contact with him as they crossed the grass to sit beneath their usual bench. Maddy perched tentatively on one end, whilst Felix stood at the other. It seemed for a moment that Liv might object to this deliberate distancing. However, she simply sighed and settled herself between them, as she had done for most of the week.
A few moments passed and no one said a word. A chilly, autumn breeze, akin to the atmosphere between them, pinched at Maddy's cheeks as it whipped around the courtyard. Once again, Maddy noted with vexation that this was a perfect opportunity for an apology, but Felix made no attempt at words. It was Liv who spoke first.
Oh, this is ridiculous, she sighed. Is one of you not going to say something?
I've tried, Felix muttered. She doesn't want to listen.
You haven't tried hard enough, Maddy ground back, glowering down at the grass beneath her feet.
How?! spluttered Felix, indignantly. Maddy, I made every attempt to apologise to you but you wouldn't let me! I don't get-
That's just it isn't it! Maddy roared. Her anger finally bubbled over, and she jumped to her feet, whirling around to face her two terrified friends. You don't get it! You can't possibly comprehend what is it that you said! I expect that word from the whole pissing world when I finally tell them what I am! But right now, right here, I don't expect it from YOU!
Her last bellowed word bounced forcefully around the enclosed space before falling silent on the wind. Maddy stood, panting, in front of the bench. Her hands were tightly clenched and, much to her horror and frustration, she felt hot tears pricking at the corners of her eyes. She turned away to hide them. Footsteps echoed around the courtyard; a hand grazed her shoulder timidly.
Maddy, I'm sorry, Felix whispered. I shouldn't have said it. I was angry and I lashed out, not that that's any excuse.
I forgive you, responded Maddy, shakily, wiping her eyes as Felix turned her around to hug her. And I'm sorry for having a go at you, though I'm not going to change my mind. I still think that they're a bad influence on you.
<>Fair enough, Felix conceded. I think you'll change your mind when you meet them on Saturday night though. They're alright.
Maddy found this highly unlikely. She envisioned they would be the ones drinking out of funnels and, later, vomiting in Mrs Crompton's prized collection of imitation Ming vases. Still, she decided to reserve her judgement; she always gleaned a great deal of pleasure from being able to say I told you so'.
Is that it then? asked Liv, hopefully. No more separate desks at registration? No more dodging each other in the corridors like little kids?
Felix glanced at Maddy, who simply smiled.
Yeah, he grinned. We're cool.
Thank god for that, Liv sighed. I thought you might have both mentally regressed a few years. Please don't make me have to shout like that again.
Actually, that was quite impressive, Maddy smiled, whilst Felix chuckled. I like the dominating side of you, Olivia Hartford.
Shut up, Liv mumbled, turning pink, as Maddy and Felix both laughed heartily.
You guys should come back to mine, Felix suggested, once the laughter had subsided. There's this awesome stash of booze hidden in our cellar I can't believe my mum hasn't noticed it yet.
Alright, agreed Maddy. Though I should warn you. I don't care if it's your birthday: if, on Saturday, I find you passed out in a pool of your own puke, I'm leaving you like that.
Fair enough, Felix grinned, as the three set off back through the school. Will you be staying over after the party then?
Sure, said Maddy. I'm sure we can come up with something to placate Liv's folks.
And will I have to organise separate rooms? asked Felix, in a tone of mock innocence. Or are you girls alright sharing?
Maddy shot him a withering stare.