Hope, Dear Reader, is a wonderful, splendid thing. Jonty's confusion about my and Markku's relationship with each other and his subsequent obvious misunderstanding over Saul let me have mine back. That was glorious, but please do understand that I still had serious reservations.

Jonty had more than disappointed me the evening before. Even drunkenness didn't excuse the things he had said and done. I was reeling with a mixture of jealousy and grudging, pitied sadness that he had let Saul do what I could not if I was trying to do right by him, and that he was still too far behind his own desires or any true understanding of himself to own the feelings he was having. I wouldn't have minded the alcohol or the show of irresponsible behaviour half as much if he hadn't tried to hide behind it all. The denial nearly made me give in. It is one thing to be infatuated with someone who is still in that age old closet; it is quite another to be infatuated with someone who is determined to pretend that the closet doesn't even exist. I'm not in the habit of taking on impossible tasks to pass the time.

Lottie had made me vow to help the poor boy out of his confusion, but I still had my pride, and it was too wounded to allow me to chase after him demanding why he cared, or what he'd meant, or why he'd thought that Markku and I were something we were not. Besides, there were other people nursing lesser degrees of hangover and thoroughly eating the pantry bare; I could hardly leave them all to it. So I didn't chase after him, much perhaps as I should have done.

We both agree that the party proved a turning point, but it wasn't all a strong and sudden plunge into perfection from there. I had my work cut out, and my poor, darling McPhee had a way to go yet. I confess I didn't make it altogether easy for him, but my heart couldn't have taken him to-ing and fro-ing over what he wanted.

"Know thyself," is what the ancient Greeks said, and then good old Shakespeare expanded on the point perfectly neatly in Hamlet.

"This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Jonty, and any one like he was then, was quite the loose cannon, liable to cause damage in all directions with whomever and whatever he collided with, until he had figured out what he wanted. Volatile and unstable – free radical particles rushing around making all kinds of mistakes while he tried to figure out how he fitted in with the rest of the world and I'm not saying I don't understand – of course I do, when your reality shifts that's bound to happen – but insensitive or not, I knew he needed to sort himself out before more complications were added to the mix.

I'm rather good at thoroughly complicating a man's life and my darling McPhee was just not ready for it. Not only would I have ended up cast aside prematurely, it would have been taking advantage, whether he realised it or not.

I admit, there were more personal, less lofty and philosophical reasons for be avoiding calling him after the party. I needed a small respite to realign my own understanding of things. The weekend passed and school came and I got given a rather hefty assignment with a very short deadline, and I used it as the perfect excuse that it was to ignore the problem entirely.

Jonty, you see, was not the only one wrong-footed by the whole affair. Granted, I had hoped that my crush on him was returned in some small measure – that his blushing and fits of monumental awkwardness were caused by me in the most positive way, but I had already mostly resigned myself to believing that it simply was not the case. The Halloween Party changed everything, and it was quite spectacularly terrifying to go from the certainty of rejection on general grounds of gender and persuasion, to the possibility of it on more a personal, individual level. When you're quite used to most people you're interested in never being interested at all, the possibility of someone who might be, not being, when you like him so desperately that you have a pathetic urge to impress him with every small thing that you do, is a horror all to its own. Of course, it was quite exhilarating as well, but my heart did feel so very much more exposed.

Whatever Jonty had said, he was definitely not entirely straight and yes, that gave me such delicious hope, but it also filled me with terror.

On an information mission, with a carefully restrained desire to tear out Saul's jugular and feed it to him, I had enquired, as casually and gossipingly as I could muster, about my gregarious ex's conquest. My smile fixed numbly to my face and I laughed in all of the appropriate places when he told me that Jonty wasn't all that shy with his hands, so long as he was comfortable. Markku stood observing the conversation with a silent tension as though he was preparing to jump in and haul me off Saul, but I turned my flinches to smiles and only balled my fists tighter every time Saul tugged at the collar of his top, drawing attention to his mouth-bruised neck and collarbone.

Thankfully, it was Jonty himself who provided the excuse for me to see him again, while still allowing me to act as though I wasn't slowly dying of an excruciating crush. At that point, despite Jonty's outrage at Saul's affectionate behaviour towards me, I had not the slightest scrap of proof that my attraction towards him was reciprocated. I did know that he was not adverse to sticking his tongue down another man's throat, and that he was aggravated by Saul's morning-after behaviour, but that was all, and really that annoyance could well have been because after such a gratuitous spit-swapping session, one would at least expect some form of acknowledgement in the morning.

Lottie claims this was my pride taking over and cutting off my nose to spite my face, so to speak, and that I was being unreasonable to expect a more obvious admission from my pup, but I maintain (much to everyone's annoyance, I know) that Jonty's outrage was no kind of admission at all.

I did not call him, but bless him, he swallowed all of his pride and came up to me, rather red-faced, at school the following week. He even ventured into the dragon's layer of the sixth form block to do it, and my heart melted a little when I realised he wasn't looking for Heather at all, because he aimed an awkward wave in my direction and mouthed a silent, "Hi."

It may have seemed a relatively insignificant move to make, but it was so much more progress than I had expected. Jonty took a visible gulp at the doorway, before striding across the crowded common room, directly towards me. He didn't try to pretend he wasn't there to see me – didn't make it look like a duty, and that took a lot of guts because I knew as well as he must have done that there would follow various rumours about 'that Jonty kid in year eleven' and 'the gay one in year twelve', as I believe I am affectionately known amongst my peers.

His friends would hear about it, eventually. I'm fairly certain he tagged me as Heather's friend rather than his own, when they asked, and most likely claimed he was talking to me because he needed to get his t-shirt back, having left it after the party, or rather never having managed to take it home, even before then, but it was a baby step in the right direction nonetheless.

"Look, I just wanted to... Um. I mean, I was thinking – because I kind of made a mess of that flowerbed and you were talking about plants and stuff, and – yeah. I just – Sorry about all that stuff." He had been talking a mile a minute and practically shaking, as though he was giving a speech in front of the entire school, rather than having a mainly mumbled word with me. Lovely McPhee forced his eyes closed and drew in a deep breath and I could practically see how ill with nerves he felt. My stomach turned itself over in sudden shock, not knowing exactly what it was he was going to say and dreading everything.

Only for a highly fantastical moment did I ever consider that he might have been about to ask me out, but that was dizzying. Would I have to refuse, simply on principle? Could I really stand there and tell him that although I thought he was thoroughly adorable, he clearly wasn't ready? The simple answer, despite everything I'd told myself, was no.

"I could, if you wanted. Help dig and stuff. 'Cause you said you wanted to do a plan and... Yeah."

I've no idea why he didn't call me up instead of putting himself through the torture of asking face to face. Perhaps he'd known he'd talk himself out of calling repeatedly, or struggle to find the time to do it without Heather in the room, or one of his other sisters in the way.

My teeth trapped my lip to hide my beaming smile and much as I may have wanted to, I resisted hugging him. The poor boy had no need of further gossip just yet.

"That would be perfection." I'd died and gone to a land of milk and honey where my every desire came true. "Saturday then?"

He let out a breath on a cautious smile, eyes catching mine just briefly and he nodded, looking almost calm. "Ok. Great. I should... um." A little awkwardly, Jonty pointed back behind him to the door, and I nodded. It's some small miracle that he didn't trip over his own feet on the way out.

Lottie, who had been hovering in my peripherals since Jonty had shown himself, slid closer to me along the row of chairs. She was laughing just a little. "Did he just ask you out?"

Flummoxed, my smile tried to imitate a frown, but my happy heart wasn't having any of it. "Of course not. Don't be ridiculous. He's making up for vomiting everywhere and making a scene." But maybe, just maybe, so the tingle in my stomach told me, he was asking me out as well. That, Dear Reader, is why hope is so spectacular. It keeps you going through even the most confusing of times.