2.

Ness came over to mine after school that day. We dumped our stuff in the front room and then I made a beeline for the kitchen fridge. Ness and I had known each other since primary school so her watching me practically clambering into the fridge with my school skirt hitched up round my thighs didn't matter.

She sat down at the table while I scrambled out of the fridge with two of those Muller fruit corner yoghurts.

"Tomorrow's going to be awesome," she said.

"Ness?" I asked, discomfort creeping into my voice.

"Yup?" She peeled back the lid of the yoghurt and licked it delicately. I hopped up onto one of the kitchen chairs and perched on the edge of the table. I could feel my forehead furrowing as I thought about how best to phrase what I wanted to say.

"Something on your mind?" she asked, running the teaspoon round the edges of the rim of cartoon, where the yoghurt's the thickest.

"I just wondered… what do you think of Harry?"

I glanced up at her and saw she was giving me a studious, considerate look, her head tilted as she thought.

"I think he's a decent guy," she answered at last. "But I also think he's going out with Kate."

"Sure, sure," I said quickly. But my heart was sinking.

She didn't press it the issue and we sat eating yoghurt in silence for a few seconds. I was just trying to think of something to say to smooth over the awkward moment when she asked gently,

"You like him?"

I shrugged. Sitting on the edge of the table, my back was half turned to her anyway so it was easier to avoid meeting her gaze.

"He's just a nice guy," I said as nonchalantly as I could.

"Right," she said. There wasn't any accusation or reproach in her voice, but I heard it anyway and cringed. I wished I had never said anything. But Ness was my best friend and she wouldn't let me slide away so easily.

"I just think," she said lightly but my clinging to her words gave them more weight than ten millstones, "that it would make things very complicated."

I knew it would. I had known it would be complicated a few weeks ago, when Harry and Kate first started going out and I felt this strange surge of pure jealously and the hope went shooting through my head so loudly I might have well have spoken it out loud: "It won't last."

I licked the pot clean as I took careful aim and pitched it into the bin the other side of the kitchen, Kate said conversationally,

"To be honest, I don't like Kate either."

"Well, one of us had to say it."

Ness got up and walked across to the bin to put her pot in it.

"Maybe it's just because she's feeling a bit of an outsider still, and not yet settled in," she suggested kindly. Good old Ness.

"Or maybe she just is a pushy, annoying little kid," I supplied as I joined her by the sink to wash up my spoon.

"Well, we should give her a chance," Ness said while I carelessly rinsed the spoon under the cold tap and tossed it into the drying rack.

I snorted. All anyone could say was that we ought to be giving Kate a chance. Well, she'd been hanging out with us for over a month now, the trial period was well and truly up but no one seemed to have the bottle to deliver the unofficial verdict – that we couldn't stand her.

OK, so I may have been speaking for myself when I said that. And now Ness. But Donnie and Harry… Well, Donnie liked any girl who was too nice to tell him to push off when he started leeching all over them. And Harry…

"Isn't she going to feel out of place there tomorrow?" I asked.

"Where? At the Reef?"

"Yeah. I mean, she's tiny. She'll get squished if she's even standing on the edge of a mosh pit." I couldn't curb the nasty barb in my voice but Ness didn't pull me up on it.

"Well, we'll just have to see tomorrow," she said, turning off the tap and flicking her wet fingers in my face. "Come on, maybe you'll meet someone you like better than Harry."

Unlikely. I didn't know whether it was love I felt for Harry but he was definitely the first halfway-decent looking guy to treat me nicely. He was cool too, and smart without being cocky son of a bitch or smarmy like Donnie. He got suspended recently for writing an article in the student magazine about the firing of the best English teacher we'd had for ages. The Head hauled him into the study for it and blew up at him. Harry? He didn't even sweat. He told us he'd just said that this was a free country and he was entitled to express his opinion.

That was when Mr Mitchell started scribbling out the suspension forms.

Harry was cool.